Check The Environment

The other day an Instagram friend posted this quote:

“When a flower doesn’t bloom you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” – Alexander Den Heijer

I loved this because it resonated in me. But as swiftly as the thoughts came in, life swept them away.

I was going through my Facebook newsfeed a few days later and was quickly reminded of that post. It was from an article in the Paris Review from author CJ Hauser. The essay titled The Crane Wife was an incredible read about how a woman found herself on a crane research trip after breaking off an engagement. Here’s the passage that took me back to that earlier post:

Here is what I learned once I began studying whooping cranes: only a small part of studying them has anything to do with the birds. Instead we counted berries. Counted crabs. Measured water salinity. Stood in the mud. Measured the speed of the wind.

It turns out, if you want to save a species, you don’t spend your time staring at the bird you want to save. You look at the things it relies on to live instead. You ask if there is enough to eat and drink. You ask if there is a safe place to sleep. Is there enough here to survive?

Why did this hit me so hard? Spending the last five years ardently working on myself by dealing with my weight, my food addiction, and my (often crippling) anxiety I discovered a link I never knew I was missing! I’ve been so focused on myself that I haven’t paused – consciously – to consider my environment.

When a person has a weight issue it’s often because there’s an imbalance somewhere. Many will consider that imbalance to ONLY be calories in far exceed calories out. It would be nice if that were true. It’s just one part of a much more complex algorithm! There’s usually an underlying cause that leads to the pure calorie math.

For example, consider the environment in which a person lives. Has food insecurity ever been an issue? A person who was deprived food through poverty or even through a parent’s withholding can be a factor.

I personally know a woman whose mother was terrified she’d grow up to be fat. She was slightly overweight when we were kids and her mother was obsessed with how much she ate, what she could eat and where she could eat. Her mother constantly micromanaged her food. When I saw her ten years after we graduated from high school she had gained a lot of weight. I often wondered if leaving her parents house where she had no one to stop her or manage her food led to her weight gain. Turns out her mother was heavy as a child and was taunted throughout her school years. Her desire to save her daughter from the same treatment was the motivation behind her behavior.

Trauma is another item to consider. Comedian Russell Brand famously said this:

Cannabis isn’t a gateway drug. 
Alcohol isn’t a gateway drug. 
Nicotine isn’t a gateway drug. 
Caffeine isn’t a gateway drug.

Trauma is the gateway.
Childhood abuse is the gateway. 
Molestation is the gateway. 
Neglect is the gateway. 

Drug abuse, violent behavior, hypersexuality, and self-harm are often symptoms (not the cause) of much bigger issues.

And it almost always stems from a childhood filled with trauma, absent parents, and an abusive family.

But most people are too busy laughing at the homeless and drug addicts to realize your own children could be in their shoes in 15 years.

Communicate. 
Empathize. 
Rehabilitate.

— Russell Brand

When I first saw this, it hit me hard. The weight of that truth sunk into my core. Although he doesn’t specifically mention food, when it’s abused food can be just as dangerous! When I started to take on the challenge of my weight I had to consider the source! What is the root of my eating? It wasn’t only WHAT I was eating (calorie math) but WHY was I eating (complex algorithm)?

I was stagnant in my behaviors for years. I discovered that despite how I felt about myself the greater risk was in changing. It was far easier to stay the same! I willingly chose a life where I was so miserable in my own skin because even though I was unhappy with myself it was far more comfortable to stay in my misery than to attempt to do something and potentially fail… again. I knew my misery and ended up making it my friend. I was the flower that wouldn’t bloom but I didn’t have the strength to consider switching my environment!

Looking back, I see how taking the steps to work on myself contributed to a change in my environment. To be successful in how you live after surgery you have to be able to eat according to a plan. Before surgery I’d often order food or go out to fast food. I’d have a steady supply of ice cream, chocolate, and cookies at my disposal at all times! You can’t do that after surgery. The first environment I changed was my kitchen! I didn’t even realize that’s what happened!

If you’re struggling or lost, have you considered what in your environment is hindering you? Look around and take stock. Then look inside and try to uncover the roots. Having the courage to honestly get to truth of your weight and being willing to challenge the environment around you will lead to success.

Back On Track After Illness

I started to write a blog the other day about my sinus surgery. It really wasn’t until I started to write everything down that I noticed just how long my sinuses have given me problems. I actually first started presenting issues back in May of 2018. That was a year ago!

The past year has been amazing from doing my TEDx Talk, launching my book, and having my dream book signing at my favorite book shop Savoy. I was even nominated for an Athena award, celebrated 10 years with my husband, and moved! Did I mention that I teach POUND several days a week and take karate?

In the midst of all these great things I also took 10 rounds of oral antibiotics of increasing strength and duration, took prednisone for far longer than I ever wanted to, had a PICC line of antibiotics since my “severe persistent maxillary sinus infection” seemed to never go away. Through it all I rarely paused.

Figuring out I’m allergic to a host of plants, animals, and fungi and starting immunotherapy has been great but finally going in to repair my deviated septum and tool through my sinuses has been incredible. I sleep better, breathe better, and even though the first couple of days I felt like I was hit with a bat it is all worth it.

Now that I’m feeling better I got to see just how much this has affected me. I was always very diligent with journaling my food and meal prep but the past few months have been so draining that I barely kept up. It’s easy to make excuses when you don’t feel well. Being under the weather is always a great excuse to slack.

If you’ve been around these Blog parts for a while you’ll know that I’ve had a very unhealthy relationship with scales. It was bordering on obsessive and emotionally controlling. When I had RNY Gastric Bypass I only weighed myself at the doctors office until those appointments became less frequent. I then implemented what I call the Rumble Strip.

On a roadway the rumble strip is the lines placed in the asphalt beyond the white line. When your tires hit them it makes an alarming sound jilting the driver back to attention. My rumble strip is a pair of pants. I have a pair of jeans that I love. They fit well and the true test is how they fit fresh out of the dryer. If I ever want to check how I’m doing I’ll throw on those pants and let them be my guide.

I haven’t done it in a while and with my general slack and boatload of excuses I knew it was time. I put them on yesterday after 3 solid weeks of limited activity recovering from my surgery. They went over my hips and zipped just fine. The button, however, not my finest hour. I’ve officially hit the rumble strip and I’m finally feeling well enough to tackle it!

So many people ask about getting back on track. Not just after weight loss surgery but after any way that you’ve lost before and began the slow creep back. The best thing is always to go back to basics. You know what you did that worked so return there and begin again. The month of June I’m doing a 30 Day Re-Focus where I’ll return to my basics and get back on track.

What are Basics?

  • Count macros and calories
  • Journal all food (if you bite it write it)
  • Chart how I feel when I eat
  • Be sure I’m pausing and taking 10 seconds (read about that HERE)
  • Increase step goal to 15,000 per day
  • Move 60 mins per day
  • Meal prep!

What are NOT Basics?

  • Getting upset about gain
  • Isolating and not addressing the issue
  • Continuing to live in your excuses
  • Not trying to correct the behavior before it gets out of control
  • Hating yourself

Remember:

  • You cannot hate yourself happy
  • You cannot shame yourself thin
  • You can take steps to correct
  • You can reach out for help and accountability
  • You can bounce back
  • We can do it together
  • Give yourself 30 days

Before May 31st

  • Weigh yourself
  • Take measurements
  • Make sure you have a place to journal your food
  • Find an accountability partner or check in with me
  • Have at least 3 days of healthy and portioned meals ready to go
  • Be ready to take this challenge on!
  • NOTE: You will not weigh in or take measurements until July 1st. Feel free to put on your Rumble Strip pants to check progress if you NEED to see how you’re doing before July.

You’ll be amazed what 30 days of focus can do! Let’s do it together. I’ll be posting some free reference guides and helpful planning tips.

Who Are You Fighting?

I first walked into East Coast Karate two years ago on a whim when a friend of mine posted they were hosting “Buddy Week” where people can bring a friend to try classes for free. You can read about that experience here: The Karate Adult

Karate – like anything that challenges you and takes you out of your comfort zone – had proven to be a place where I experience the most growth physically and mentally. I’m a person who likes to do things right and well. I like the satisfaction that comes with doing something to the best of my ability. I’ve also been known to “not see the forest for the trees.” I can get so mired in details that I fail to notice the big picture. That became abundantly clear a couple of weeks ago.

In karate class, we’re often sent in groups by rank to work with a sensei. A sensei is someone who has achieved a rank of black belt or above and is entrusted with the training of underbelts. On this particular day, we were paired with Sensei Les and we were thrilled. A little backstory on Sensei Les: when I first started in the dojo he was going from his final green belt (green with a black stripe) to his brown belt. His entire belt rank was amazing. I can safely speak for my entire group when I say that we would watch them in absolute awe and wonder if we would EVER look like that.

Before I get to our conversation on the day in question I want to share how Sensei Les challenges us. He’s a man that always does things to full potential. If you’re going to go then GO and GO ALL THE WAY! It’s inspiring. I can get inside my head pretty quickly and I like to mentally go over things before I put any speed or emphasis. I was paired with Sensei Les and we were learning a new drill. I’m trying to work it out – trying to get it perfect (ugh) – and I go to punch Sensei Les. Remember, I’m trying to work out details so I’m not placing any power in that punch. As I “punch” him he just stares at me.

Me: You’re supposed to block…
Sensei Les: You’re supposed to hit!

(apply cold water to burn)

That was the first day I just laid waste to my perfecting BS and just did the drill and it was amazing. I was almost forced out of my head because I was going to do the drill or get drilled. I wouldn’t want to take an errant punch from anyone at our dojo but certainly NOT from Sensei Les. This was a powerful lesson (and epic clapback) that paved the way for our next session with Sensei Les at the helm.

Karate is learned in stages almost like child development. You have to crawl before you walk and certainly before you run. As you improve and progress you learn more advanced ways of doing moves. This is hard for me because I want to know what is RIGHT. RIGHT! What is universally correct. There’s a lot of nuance to karate. (I know, I know.. I’m working on it!)

Sensei Les is taking us through our katas. We start from the beginning and we know the patterns of 11 of them. As second level green belts (green with white stripe) we are at a place where are no longer crawling through karate. Sensei was gifting us with fine tuning our kata with more advanced moves. This is where Sensei Les was when I started karate. Having him teach us is like seeing the light in the tunnel! I want to absorb everything!

Me: Sensei I notice that you move your arm this way yet another Sensei does it slightly differently. Which way is correct?

Sensei Les: They’re both correct.

Me (mentally starting to crumble): Wait, which way is classically correct? Like which is the way that we should learn in our development now?

Sensei Les: Who are you fighting?

In an instant, the light bulb went on and my brain simultaneously snapped! As I was wandering aimlessly through the forest looking for trees I missed the largest and most fundamental part of karate:

Karate is a fighting style!

When we spar in class I fight. I’m actually surprised by how much I like to spar. It’s fast, there’s no time to think, you act and react accordingly or you get hit. Despite knowing this, I was approaching this entire class like a chance encounter with someone in an alley would go like this:

Oh, you’d like to attack me? Hold on… can you stand right there? Give me a second, I just have to perfect my punch placement! All the while my attacker is just letting me get set up. I would never do this in sparring but I was failing to connect the two. We are not learning poses!

When we learn kata we also learn bunkai or the practical applications of kata. I remember in the beginning just thinking that I need to know WHAT I’m doing then I can learn WHY. That logic is fundamentally flawed. Knowing the why improves the what, even at the beginning. Especially at the beginning! Why have I resisted this? Sensei Dave has said it repeatedly. This was the first day I received it.

One question from Sensei Les and my karate has taken a new level of intensity. Every moment is in preparation for an actual fight. In the mirrors, I am my opponent. When I practice I think of the fight and I’m preparing for it.

Ultimately, this works in so many areas of life:

  • If you’re going to do something, do it to the best of your ability
  • When preparing for any battle know who you’re fighting
  • Practice like it’s real because when it’s real you won’t get to practice
  • Move, block, or get hit… the choice is yours.

Domo Arigato, Sensei Les!

The Cruelest Words I’ve Heard

I read a post on a bariatric group a few weeks ago that just stayed with me. She wrote this:

It’s so sad that strangers are so much nicer to me since I lost weight.

This is a fact that many men and women notice after weight loss. People can be truly cruel, especially when someone who is not an ideal body type. I’ve often said that weight is the lowest hanging fruit on the insult tree. The first thing people grab when they want to throw an insult.

You fat (enter insult here)!!!

Don’t think this is limited to just overweight people. Thin people get this too and it’s just as damaging. I used to think calling someone skinny was the ultimate compliment because I wanted to be thin so badly. It’s not an compliment regardless of your intention. It’s a stone that when thrown leaves a mark. You can’t see the mark but trust me, it’s there.

Ultimately, people are much kinder after weight loss. When I first started walking I didn’t want to walk outside because I didn’t want the stares from people on the street or hear insults yelled from cars. This has happened more frequently than you can imagine.

I was eating an ice cream cone at a county fair minding my own business when a man walked up to me and said:

That’s probably part of your problem.

I don’t know what he gained from this. If your mission in life was break me down emotionally by attacking me verbally, then you won, good for you. If you thought this one second insult made in passing somehow got through to me and I would drop my ice cream and join a gym, that’s where you went wrong. You only succeeded in making me feel bad about myself which is the precursor to bingeing. You literally threw a log on the slow burning embers of my fragile self esteem. Congratulations.

Next my mind wandered to a different place. I’ve fought the battle of my weight for over 30 years. Thirty years of not feeling beautiful – and thinking people who said I was beautiful was lying or crazy. This is not a way to live. Then it hit me:

The cruelest words I’ve ever heard are the ones I say to myself daily.

Yes, people definitely treat me better now that I’m smaller, however, that’s an issue that will only be changed when people learn to accept that all body’s are different but all deserve respect. I can’t change other people’s thoughts, opinions, or even their cruelest words. I can control mine.

I don’t believe in diets or resolutions. I believe in creating lifestyle changes that will better my heath and wellbeing. This year I’m working on that nagging voice that gets in the back of my mind and tells me I’m not enough, not ideal, or not worthy. Negative self talk ends today.

The bible verse 1 Corinthians 6:19 (NASB) is a great reminder:

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

Notice it reads “your body is a temple.”

It doesn’t say your body is a temple when:

  • You lose weight
  • You gain muscle
  • You cut carbs
  • You fit your high school prom dress
  • You get your body back after childbirth

Your body is a temple – without qualifier! Again, I’m not one for resolutions but I am all about a good, healthy goal. My goal this year is to silence my inner evil critic and remember my body is a temple and should be treated with – and spoken to – with respect.

Who’s with me?

Farewell 2018

Thank you 2018. What a whirlwind year! Goals achieved, dreams realized, and relationships cultivated; tempered with loss of loved ones, physical health issues, and personal challenges. From the joy of publishing my book and speaking on the famous red dot of TEDx to the tragedy of losing my aunt, this has been a year.

What I’ll take from every joy and pain of 2018, is that life ebbs and flows moment by moment. We tend to trick ourselves into the newness of a year on January 1st but a new opportunity is born every second. Not just on January 1st, not on Monday morning, but every moment you’re alive is a chance to do better or be better. Don’t get sucked into the hype of a new year. Be present in moments. If you stumble, all is not lost! With the simple blink of an eye, by the grace of God, you can try again.

Thank you 2018. If you’re reading this then my heartfelt thanks to you! What a gift and pleasure to share this space with you all. I can’t wait to show you what’s planned for 2019!

God Bless!

Regina

Perfectionism, Food Issues and Karate

I’m definitely a perfectionist. I like things done. Right. The first time. I like doing things well and I’m obsessed with things like order and placement. From a marketing perspective this can be considered great or even ideal. One thing that really changed my life was when I discovered perfection’s back story. Perfection is really fear, anxiety, and procrastination doing an elaborate dance.

What does that mean? I can’t speak for all people, but I can certainly speak to my own experiences. Looking over my past behaviors – which was essential to weight loss – I discovered that I would often opt to do NOTHING if I couldn’t do it PERFECTLY. Inevitably, the task I needed to do would likely take more time to complete but I’d want to do it immediately. If I didn’t have the time to do that, I’d leave it to another day.

Perfection is merely procrastination in a tuxedo.

In our last house I had an office studio where I’d make personalized items. After the holiday season it was usually a wreck. I’d open the door and want to clean it to sheer perfection. Realizing how that was impossible I’d simply shut the door and wait until I had more time. If I did get to the place where I’d actually tackle it, I’d often get so overwhelmed at the enormity of it all and shut down. Greetings Anxiety! I knew you’d show up eventually!

As I began the process for weight loss surgery, I noticed how a lot of this behavior was not only in office clean up but heavily tied to my food behaviors. I would never say, “I’m going to cook dinner tonight.” I would say, “I’m going to cook dinner every night for the rest of my life!” When I failed once at my Lifetime Cooking Goal I’d go right back to ordering out because I failed.

I had to recognize that I was constantly setting myself up for failure! In my office I could’ve planned to break down what needed to be done into smaller, more manageable tasks, set a deadline for completing those tasks, and worked toward completion. With cooking dinner I could’ve endeavored to cook that one night and work up to cooking more often.

I mind-tricked myself out of my own wellness!

My internal need for perfection would often have me procrastinating until I felt that I could accomplish something perfectly. What a realization!

As I applied this model of breaking things down into smaller and more manageable tasks, I realized it was not just in office cleanliness or wellness that I had this issue. Karate brought out a lot of this behavior. I wanted to have black belt skills as a white belt. Yeah, that’s not possible. I’d often go home after class and beat myself up for not learning fast enough or looking as good as my peers. It was challenging physically and even more mentally.

After a while, you realize that you will only get better with dedication and practice. I am not a black belt so I won’t have black belt skills. What I can do is learn and practice. I will not know anything instantly. I will have to break it down, learn it in pieces, and put it together over time.

One of the most valuable pieces to all of this is the realization that doing something – even something unbelievably small – is better than doing nothing at all. Gracefully bow out of the Dance of Perfection and Procrastination and begin.

Progress not perfection.

Did You Do It Yourself

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to have a booth selling and signing my books at the Rhode Island Women’s Expo. I loved sharing Food, Sweat, & Fears with new people.

Weight is so personal. You could see it in how people chose to engage at the booth. Some didn’t want to engage at all, while others had more curiosity. Many people opened up and shared stories of about themselves or a loved one battling the issues of weight. Most people seemed like they were looking for The Secret Missing Link Of Weight Loss.

The most frequent question was this:

Did you do it yourself?

The battle rages on. People still seem to believe that weight loss surgery has no element of work and is considered “cheating” weight loss. There was a woman who had surgery and called it cheating! I was stunned. She intimately knows how much work is involved in this process and still called it cheating!

My work is not done. I will continue to speak and share my message about the surgical options for weight loss. Surgery is NOT for everyone but removing the stigma from this option can save lives.

Weight loss surgery is not a quick fix or even a guarantee of weight loss. Long term success eludes most people after surgery. This can be directly attributed falling back into unhealthy eating behaviors after surgery. When you’ve spent your life exhibiting poor eating choices – like me – or you use food as a primary coping strategy – like me – this can be extremely challenging. You have to do the work. No matter how you choose to lose weight there will be work to do.

Coming out of the Thanksgiving Food Olympics and heading straight into Christmas Cookie Season, makes me really sensitive to people’s comments. Probably because the hardest workout I do this season is shaking my head from left to right refusing your offers of cookies and cakes.

I have to do that all by myself.

______________

Did you know you can preorder my new, expanded cookbook Healthy Fare today? Ships before Christmas! Check it out here: Healthy Fare

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Here’s a quick recipe I threw together tonight in a rush. I was pleasantly surprised by how good it tasted and even more impressed with how quickly it all came together: Start to finish including prep time was 30 minutes!

In honor of my cookbook coming out soon here’s a recipe to hold you over! Here’s the printable version: stuffed-portobello-mushrooms-recipe-1.pdf

God and the Stupid Muffin

There is no doubt in my mind that God provides divine appointments. What some will consider serendipitous or lucky I believe has been put in place by the Creator.

Many know the story of my friend Kathy that I met at the NYC Marathon in 2016. The full story is in my book Food, Sweat, & Fears (no spoilers). There was also the day that I was feeling defeated after an 11 mile training run and my friend Jaime posted something on my Facebook wall that provided comfort and understanding when I needed it most. God places people where we need them, when we need them… especially when we had no idea we needed them!

This brings us to one day at Panera about 8 months after I had RNY Gastric Bypass. By this point I’d already lost 150lbs and I was doing well. I was out shopping and realized I hadn’t eaten in a while and there was a lot of fast food places and a Panera immediately around me. I decided Panera would be my best bet for fresh and healthy food choices. When I walked in the first thing I noticed is the large case filled with bakery items. Bagels, cookies, and breads of all kinds displayed lovingly. The line to order was long and as I waited and I couldn’t help staring at the display case.

Then I saw him. He was as beautiful as ever. Round with the tiniest hint of shimmer and flecked with raisins. This pumpkin muffin was positively calling my name. As the line winded down I was only closer to him. I think I broke out into a sweat.

Me: I don’t want you.

Pumpkin Muffin: Liar. You know you want me.

Me: I don’t. (I look away)

PM: Look at me and acknowledge you want me.

Me: (looking) Fine! I do want you.

PM: Then have me. I’m just one muffin!

Me: It’s NEVER one muffin AND I just had surgery! No! I could get dumping syndrome!

PM: (silence, just staring me down)

As much as I tried to ignore his obvious advances I was getting weak. Apparently, pumpkin muffins are like dogs… they can smell fear.

PM: Just try it and not everyone who has RNY gets dumping syndrome.

Now, the PM is making sense! I could try it. Maybe just take a tiny bite. How bad could that be? I don’t know anyone here! Who would know?

It’s just one stupid muffin.

I finally get to the front of the line and it’s shift change. Of course it is! I always get to places at the wrong time. If there’s a construction person ordering coffee for an entire job site I’m always behind them at the coffee shop. I’m frustrated and now I know I’m going to order that muffin! That will totally make this better.

IT’S JUST ONE STUPID MUFFIN!!

Just as I’m so looking forward to stuffing that muffin in my mouth and savoring every ounce of it – dumping syndrome be damned – a woman comes out to take my order.

Her: Hello! How are you?

I nearly passed out! The smiling woman ready to take my order is Mary Ellen, woman from my church who lives in our neighborhood! She knows me and I’m sure she knows that I had surgery! I couldn’t believe it! When did she start to work there? My heart was palpitating. Can I order the muffin like it’s for a friend? Maybe she doesn’t know what I can and can’t eat? Ugh! What should I do? I really want that stupid muffin!

When God speaks to me sometimes it’s the tiniest whisper in the wind and that gentle breeze of truth changes my heart. This verse was that whisper:

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31

This time, the whisper felt like a 2×4 to the head! Am I honoring God by trying to justify eating this muffin that has over half of my daily calories? I was one smile-from-a-friend away from sacrificing what I want most – my health – for what I want right now – one stupid muffin! After greeting her warmly I order my plan approved meal and went on my way. That was a seriously close call.

I thought of this divine appointment all the way home. I could see that God knew I was being tempted and placed Mary Ellen directly in my path.

In Greek mythology Sirens were bird-like women with beautiful voices who use their alluring sounds to entice sailors into destruction. The sailors would hear the song and follow it only to have their boats crash on the rocks. Food is my siren song that leaves my will and common sense crashing on the rocks. Food is absolutely everywhere and temptation never takes a sick day. I lose count of how often I think of food and how many times I have to say no to myself per day. I can’t think of how many times I pray for the strength to do the right thing. I’m just grateful to Jesus I have a place to take these temptations and anxieties!

I thought of this story today because I’ve been working on a project and praying for direction. I know what I’m trying to accomplish but I’ve been struggling on some key parts that have held up progress. Yesterday, my only plans were to go to church and meet up with Mary Ellen’s sister. Both of these events almost didn’t happen because I was sidelined by a horrible sinus infection for nearly a week.

Feeling better that morning, I made my way to church and kept my other appointment. These were both divinely ordained. In church, the Pastor’s sermon was directly related to what I was working on and I asked for his guidance on my project. We were both very much aligned with what I was sharing. It was exciting to know I was on the right path and had someone willing to keep me on the path.

When I met my new friend that afternoon it was a tremendous blessing. I’ve often spoken of the power of understanding and the joy that comes from a person who truly gets you. Our conversation will travel through my mind and soul for years to come. Turns out, she is also a person who could greatly influence my project and I had no idea the depth of her knowledge and skill. I didn’t need to know because God placed her squarely in my path on that day, at that time.

I’ve struggled for years with asking for help. I’ve definitely improved over time but sometimes I’ll end up hanging on to something way too long instead of just asking the question that could end the wait. As I reflected on the day this was the whisper over my heart:

7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8

And this time it really was a whisper.

Missed Opportunities

Many people say the same thing when they see my wedding pictures:

Wow! He really loves you!

Ugh.

As you’re looking at photos of my WEDDING I’d like to believe love would be obvious. It seems like they’re really saying:

Wow! He even loved you like that!

There’s a chapter in my book Food, Sweat, & Fears about the anxiety around my wedding day. Everyone wants to look their absolute best and I was no different. But the reality of the situation is that I was over 300lbs. My husband loves me for me and that is a profound blessing.

Jeff and I have a blast together. We always pray that every couple has the crazy, silly, and joyous moments we have when we’re together. He really is my best friend and the first person I can’t wait to tell good news, hug through challenging news, and to make our own news.

What if Jeff let my size stop him for continuing to see me?

What if he thought I was cool and all but he wasn’t attracted to me?

What if I let his love of country music and wearing cowboy hats stop me from getting to know him better?

I recently heard a story about a woman who was on a first date. She thought everything went well and they had a good time. At the end of the date he said something alarming.

You’re really pretty, funny and smart but I prefer my women under 100 pounds.

What?!

I understand there has to be a level of attraction but to say that she’s everything you’re looking for BUT her weight just won’t cut it.

I reminded me a conversation I heard many years ago. Two women I worked with were discussing their lives and how they’re in their early 30s and are still single and have no children. They were reflecting on some nice guys they dated in their twenties but thought they could do better. Those guys are now all married with families and the women are alone.

They keep seeking the bigger, better deal. More money. Better looking. Something that fit the thoughts and dreams of what a relationship should be. One woman even went so far as to say that there was a guy she really loved and had the best time with but he just wasn’t very cute. She regretted leaving him and as they connected over Facebook she was constantly seeing pictures of his wife and family. It was a daily reminder of all he could’ve given to her if she just accepted him as he was. She can see this clearly now.

I think these women learned the lesson that the man on the first date hasn’t yet learned: what really matters is what will sustain you over time. If she’s over 100lbs and under 100lbs will not matter when you lose a job… or a parent… or a child!

Jeff and I seen a lot together this past decade. The joys of weddings, high school and college graduations, and our parents anniversaries. We’ve also weathered many storms like losing so many people we love, the fierce and relentless battle of addictions, job loss, and more. We didn’t need a perfect weight, we needed our faith to be strong and to be together. We cling to God and each other and we will always sit in the peaceful eye of the storm. It’s not without pain, not without challenge, but it’s possible to handle together.

This is Relationship Math

You + Me = (Joys Multiplied) + (Sadness Divided)