Category Archives: New Orleans

Plus Size Fitness Instructor? Yep…That’s Me…

Life is filled with ups and downs, and there was a time when I blogged about them in real time. Now I spend less time online and more time thinking through situations, praying about them and venting less.

Right now, life is mostly good for Michael and me, but many people around us are hurting. Nothing good can come from sharing those hurts here, but I’m doing what I can to show support and offer love to those around me whether I know them or not.

One of the major ways I do that is through work. I do membership and marketing stuff, and I spend most of my days visiting with people who are striving to become healthier or hoping to start. I encourage kids with special needs to be creative, and I get a lot of fulfillment from loving others. I may not always do it well, but I definitely do my best.

One facet of my job is to bring in families, individuals and even corporate members. I strive to connect with everyone and to make them feel welcome. Often times it works, but once in a while there’s a perspective member who never makes it in. They’re often women who feel like they’ll be judged if they walk into the gym, and I understand that because I was one of those women for a long, long time.

I speak to plus-size women who have been shamed, as well as women who fear being shamed. I always ask them to take a chance on me. “Come in and visit with me face-to-face. You’ll feel so much better when you do.”

There’s nothing more satisfying to hear from a member than what I heard from one of my favorites recently.” She said, “Thank you for helping me see that life is worth living.” I can’t tell you how emotional I am just writing this now…knowing that somewhere in New Orleans a lady who didn’t always know her worth knows it now. (Thank you, God, for using me in that situation!)

Helping people see that who they are is okay has been my mission since I learned that who I am is okay, and I’m ready to take that to the next level now.

I recently completed group fitness certification, and I’m gearing up to teach a class that I’ve created with help from my guy.

I’m doing a demo class next week, and I hope to officially launch in mid-April. (That’ll depend on the rate of choreography and memorization that I out it, but I think it’s a realistic goal.)

My class, which will be formatted specifically for plus-size people (even though everyone is welcome) will allow me to uplift and encourage people like me who need it, and I can’t wait to start.

I’ve spent some serious time putting this together, and now I’m working through the routines – making sure I know them inside out, nailing transitions and working on cues. I haven’t spent so many hours sweating and smiling since I exercised with Richard Simmons and friends in L.A.

Richard is completely off the radar now, and I hope and pray that he doing well.

He helped me change the way I looked at myself, and he helped me understand that I could embrace fitness. It hasn’t been an easy journey for me, but I’m still here trying.

I know that Richard would encourage me to keep striving to be healthy because he did that throughout the time that I did know him. I can’t think of a better way to honor him that by encouraging someone else the way he encouraged me and countless others, and I wish he still emailed, called or tweeted me so I could tell him thank you again.

I’m pretty positive that I was made to do this, and I love it so much already. I’m excited to take this next step giant leap in my own fitness while helping others do the same. 

 

 

 

Blood Work, Parties and Pictures…

My pain level has decreased significantly since my last post, and while I’m not 100% better, I feel well enough to exercise again and do the things I usually do.

My weekend started with friends and colleagues at a work party Friday night when I went to the Sizzling Summer Soiree, our biggest fundraiser of the year. We’ve been looking forward to it for months, and finally being there felt like a huge success.

Michael and MeMy boyfriend, Michael, was my date for the event (obviously,) and we arrived early with a car load of sushi that had been donated for the event. When we arrived he went to work as if he had been a part of the team forever. I love that about him. He’s incredibly intelligent, bright and successful, but when a job needs to be done he gets it done. No job is beneath him because he values everyone, which is such an attractive characteristic.

He already knows the folks I work with because we’re all friends, and they’ve known him since before we were really dating. The cool thing is that he would have worked just as hard or strangers. His parents definitely raised him right. Swoon.

Stacie and KenlieStacie, who has become one of our aforementioned close friends, worked tirelessly to make this event happen. I know others did too, but I saw the work she did first-hand. We definitely all breathed a sigh of relief as we saw the event come together, then she and I took our first selfie. Seriously, we’ve had some great times together, yet we had never taken a picture? We’ve talked about that a few times.  Aren’t we cute?!

After we took our first one we took a few more with our friends and awesome co-workers. (Why not?! We were all feeling snazzy without our ponytails and gym clothes. Haha We were only missing Haley, who looked gorgeous and sparkly from head to toe! )

YMCA Friends

Michael even took one of us that was not a selfie. Who doesn’t love a good group photo?

The Cannery New Orleans

Following the party Saturday and Sunday were the quietest days I’ve had in quite a while. Michael flew out of town for work early that morning and landed as I was waking up for the day (at 7:30 am) while I ran errands around town before returning home. I typically fill my weekends with activities and events,  but I chose to take a much needed rest from all the things.

I did some writing, cooking, reading, baking and shopping. I also watched Hillary and Kaine as she announced him as her VP and  picked up a ring that I had resized. (More on the ring later.)

I had such a quiet and relaxing weekend that I almost felt guilty about it, then I was reminded that sometimes I need that. I’ll get back to my regularly scheduled lifestyle tomorrow, but it felt good to have some rest after the last few weeks. I can’t say that I’ve been busier than usual, but I do have to say that everything feels more tiring and challenging when I don’t feel well.

Thankfully, I’m on the mend. I’m seeing my doctor again on Tuesday, and I hope to have a lot of questions answered pertaining to weight-loss surgery.

Oh, and my blood work came back normal. They tested my A1C (Yay! No diabetes,) thyroid, cholesterol and a long list of other things, and it all looked fine apart from my weight and blood pressure. (Both are higher than they should be, but I’m working on it.) I figured I was probably okay when I didn’t hear back from them immediately, but it’s comforting to know  that I’m alright for the most part anyway.

 

 

 

 

Motivation Monday

Monday was my least favorite day of the week until last month when my gentleman friend started exercising with me after work. Mondays are kind of long, but they’re much more enjoyable now that I’m in a healthy routine.

The guy and I workout at different gyms, but he lives close enough to me that it’s easy to join me for a workout at the gym upstairs. I want to start jumping in the pool after our workouts, but we’re usually ready to eat dinner by the time we’re done.

We eat together a few times a week, and the majority of meals are at my place because I love to cook. He’ll eat anything I serve too, which makes it easy to want to feed him. Ha…

I’m working toward some pretty specific fitness goals that I”ll discuss here more in July or August, and it’s amazing to have his support, in addition to the encouragement I receive from my family, friends and co-workers.

I’m in a healthy place right now, and I want to continue improving in this area. I feel incredible after a sweaty workout, and sweaty selfies are still my favorite. (I suppose I should take some more of them.)

YMCA New Orleans

Gaining control of my weight is so hard, but I constantly remind myself that I can do all things through Christ. Seriously, I can’t even express how much my life has changed since I realized that God loves me and desires a healthy and abundant life for me.

It’s a long road, and I suppose it won’t end until life does. I’m okay with that now. The resentment I felt for far too long has been replaced by resilience. I know that I need to stay humble and accountable, and I am thankful for the loving people in my life who understand and empathize with that.

I have more energy than I did a month ago, and I’m looking forward to seeing more improvement in that area as I increase my level of activity.

Now it’s a new day, and it’s time to hit the ground running…(err, walking briskly…You know what I mean.)

Who’s Coming to ShiftCon?

ShiftCon is coming to New Orleans in December, and I’m excited to be a part of it this year. It’s happening right in my neighborhood too, which is an added bonus!

The last several years of my life have been filled with successes, changes and struggles to lose weight and regain control of my life. For a long time the driving force was losing weight to look and feel a certain way, and that’s fine. Heck, it’s important, but over the last several months I’ve shifted the focus to the little choices I make everyday.

There are so many areas for improvement, and as i follow the eco-wellness movement online I realize that there are lots of little things I can do to create a positive impact. I’ve also discovered brands that are making real, healthy and delicious foods, and I strive to support companies like that.

I don’t fit into the traditional role of the completely organic, non-gmo lifestyle that so many at this conference do so flawlessly, but it seems like a good idea to learn and experience as much as I can – especially since it’ll be in walking distance of my home this year.

I have a lot of respect for the founder of this conference, Leah Segedie, because she chose to encourage and uplift me at a time when I desperately needed it, and I admire her passion and tenacity.

Check out this video about the conference:

Is anyone here familiar with ShiftCon? Have you been to the conference? Do you plan to go this year? If so, I’d love to hear from you.

Shiftcon

There’s still a few more days to get the Early Bird discount, so check it out. And if you’re planning to be here, I’d love to hear from you.

 

Enough with the Black Lives Matter and Gender Equality Stuff, Or Why It’s Not Going To Work That Way

Before I share my thoughts I’d like to note that I’m half (yes, 50%) American Indian, and I’m obese. I face harsh and unfiltered discrimination on a regular basis, and I’m actively working on changing the tide (starting with myself.)

I mentioned my chat with Senator Bernie Sanders a few weeks ago, and while I don’t agree with a lot of his political views, I’m pissed about what happened in Seattle on Saturday.

The senator and presidential hopeful was there for a rally that was disrupted and ultimately shut down by Black Lives Matter “activists” who stormed the stage, showing a complete lack of respect for the senator and for the thousands of people who waited all day to hear him speak. 

Of course black lives matter; I have zero tolerance for those who disagree. The fact is all lives matter, and it’s ridiculous and sad that there are people in this nation who disagree.

There’s a serious race issue in this nation that needs to be addressed, but it’s no longer one-sided. Misdirecting anger toward one elected official who actively fights for civil rights seems like a dumb move to me.

Note to the “activists” who showed no remorse for their blatant disregard of everyone else: If you really want to affect change, try showing some respect, as opposed to acting like tempermental lunatics on a stage that isn’t yours. 

And while I’m fired up I’m going to share my feelings on Target’s decision to “move away from gender-based signs.” In my opinion the concept is stupid and mildly offensive.

I’m a woman, and I’m proud to be a woman. I don’t believe that everyone should be forced to be a woman, but I don’t see the problem in being on either.

I have friends who are transgender, and I understand and empathize with their struggle to find contentment because I am keenly aware of the difficulty associated in feeling different than everyone around you. Moving away from gender-based signs is a separate issue.

When I was growing up I didn’t play with baby dolls; I played with my dad’s sermon notes and highlighters. I wanted to be a consultant or an analyst before I was old enough to label myself as such. It didn’t matter to me if my blocks were pink and purple or if they were primary colors. I liked Lincoln Logs and Barbies, though my versatility never led to gender identity issues.

Society (myself included) has become so incredibly weak and overly sensitive that I fear we’ve forgotten that our differences make the world go around.

Men and women are different. We just are. When did that become such a deplorable and unacceptable thing?

 

 

Hurricane Katrina Wasn’t As Bad As This

According to WWL, the local CBS affiliate here in New Orleans, New Orleans has already experienced 112 murders this year. At this time last year the number was 78, so our rate is rising exponentially.

Murders in NOLA

As I looked at the map they released earlier this week I noticed that none have occurred in my neighborhood, but it’s sad and scary to think about how many people are facing tragic losses in this little city.

When I left New York I considered it “home,” but now I feel at home in New Orleans. I’m just not sure it’s a good idea to live in a place that is so riddled with crime. We’re talking about murders now, and the numbers are astronomical, but robberies and non-fatal attacks are on the rise as well. It makes me wonder about the state of the city.

You can’t spend a day among people in New Orleans without hearing about how awful Hurricane Katrina was. I didn’t live here at the time, but my family did. The city, which is widely known for its resilience, was able to rebuild, heal and grow. The hurricane was devastating, but it ended.

Crime never stops, and it’s much worse than anywhere else I’ve lived. When a hurricane is coming we can prepare for that, but no one is adequately prepared to lose a family member or a friend to violence. I wasn’t prepared when a gun was pointed in my face a couple of months ago.

New Orleans has the opportunity to thrive, but people like me will be forced to find a new place to grow if the crime rates continue to rise. I love this city, but I value my life and my safety more.

When I chatted with Senator Bernie Sanders last week before his rally, we discussed gun control. (I talked about it here,) but stricter gun laws won’t fix the problem. Instant background checks isn’t the answer either, though I support that.

I wish I had an easy answer, but I don’t. No one does, but I think it’s important to pay attention to who’s being appointed and who we’re electing, particularly at a local level because that’s where change is most likely to happen.

What is crime like where you live? Do you fear for your safety in your community?

Tangled Webs, Deception and Freedom

Right now there’s a lot of controversy surrounding a popular blogger who lied about some big things. No, I’m not that blogger. (Whew!) But I used to lie a lot. I still lie sometimes. I’ve been careful not to do it on my blog, but for a long time I lied to everyone. I get it. I’m not going to write a post defending her actions, but I do feel empathy toward her.

There are things from my past that are hard to talk about..hard to think about…that caused me to make mistakes that I shouldn’t have. Most people remember bright spots in their childhood, but I remembered the bad parts for a long time. I don’t talk about those things here because they’re too private. I don’t want to relive the past. I dealt with the issues, but I had to crash first.

I hit rock bottom a few years ago. I spent over a decade pretending to be someone I wasn’t. I didn’t do it because I felt the overwhelming need to impress everyone (though there were times when that was the case.) I did it I because my formative years were excruciating in some ways, and I became conditioned to be dishonest. I took responsibility for that a long time ago.

My sister grew up in the same place I did. We saw things that kids shouldn’t have to see, and we witnessed hurts that no one should have to endure. She didn’t become a liar. In fact, she grew into the opposite while I lied enough for the both of us.

I lied to get attention at times, but most of the time I lied because I didn’t realize that I could actually be who I wanted to be. I lived in a snowball effect of self-hatred, and it was easier to pretend that I was some  sort of impressive, elitist game changer than it was to pursue a path to become a person who facilitated change. I’m in my mid-thirties and just started figuring this out a few years ago even though it should have been obvious the whole time.

In short, it’s easy to say that lying is wrong, and it definitely is. The reasons that we do it just aren’t always quite so black and white. I didn’t do it to put one over on people, nor did I do it to be impressive. I lied because I despised myself and my life. I didn’t like the person I had become, and I felt completely worthless and helpless to change any of it. 

I lied for myself. It started as my attempt at self-preservation, and it turned into a way that I could feel loved (even though it wasn’t real.) I didn’t do it to hurt other people, but I did. I hurt people I was close to, many of whom forgave me without another thought. They allowed me to rebuild their trust, and now I have stronger relationships than I ever could have imagined.

There were a few who weren’t so gracious, and I get it. There are people who don’t think that I deserve forgiveness, and I realize that I have to accept that. I forgive myself anyway. I don’t need their approval the way I once did. Thankfully, most of the people in my life have shown grace.

I think that’s one of the reasons I’m drawn to God too. We all make mistakes; we all sin. (Romans 3:23) He offers enough grace and mercy to cover us every single day. I don’t have to live in shame and unforgiveness because Jesus paid the price for every single sin before I even knew I’d commit it.

The blogger I mentioned in the beginning of this post lied, and there’s no excuse for it. I’m just saying that I feel for her because I know how hard it is to stop lying once you start. I’ve been there, and I think that if we’re all honest, we’ve all been there. She took it too far, and I’m not defending her actions.

When I lied I didn’t do it because it was fun; I did it to cover up the emptiness, loneliness, isolation, guilt, lethargy and shame that I allowed to define me. I lied to cover those things up. I figured that it was easier to falsely impress someone at least for a while than it would be to let them know me because if they knew who I really was, what would there be to like?

I was tired of feeling lonely, but I felt lonely anyway. Lying didn’t bring me closer to people. It helped to create surface relationships, but nothing lasted because I couldn’t let anyone know who I was. I hate that I wasted so many precious years trying to make everyone like me. I regret wasting so much time before realizing that I’d rather have a few friends who genuinely know me and like me than to be surrounded by people who never scratched the surface.

When I started blogging I learned that I could be myself and that people would probably still like me. When I started making friends in New Orleans, I laid everything out upfront. I told many of my friends, starting with Clint (aka The Suit) and many people at NOLA Church, that it was hard for me to be honest. I explained that it was rarely my default response, and through lots of prayer and graciousness from the people sitting on the front row of my life, I began facing the truth and putting into practice. (James 5:16-17 is pretty clear about how to handle that.)

I’m still tempted to lie sometimes pretty often. (I proved that recently when I talked about my potential to enter into an adulterous thing in a previous post.) Sometimes lying feels easier in the moment, but it gets out of control quickly.

I am so thankful that I’m no longer a slave to the self-loathing and lies that I used to allow to define my existence. I’m so thankful for God’s incredible and unwavering mercy that allows me to live in freedom every day. I’m thankful for the second chance that I received, and I sincerely hope that the popular blogger gets a second chance as well.

*****

For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:23

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

Romans 7:18 

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

James 5:16-17

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Honest Look At My Weight

I lost four pounds last week. Having a schedule that requires me to plan what I’m going to eat has definitely been helpful, but I had mixed emotions after looking at some photos that my friend, Simone, took of me over the weekend. 

  

I know I’ve gained a lot of weight. I don’t beat myself up for it because that doesn’t lead to positive results (at least not in the long run.) I don’t try to hide it, nor do I feel sorry myself. My weight gain, which happened for the most part last year, came as a direct result of choices that I made. I’ve talked about them here many times before, so I’ll skip that today. 

The added weight feels more noticeable now that it’s back than it did before I ever lost it. I’m still thankful that I stopped myself before I gained it all back, but I’ve gained enough to feel a significant shift. It’s incredibly visible too when I look at photos of myself from 2010, 2011, and 2012 compared to now. 

It’s easy to get frustrated, but that won’t yield any postive results. It’s just hard to recognize and admit that I don’t look or feel how I want to. I dress well, and I am well-groomed. I don’t feel ugly. In fact, I’ve been feeling kind of pretty a lot lately. (Thank you, GwynnieBee.) I’m just still aware of changes that I need to make. 

Life is so much better than it was a few years ago. I’m more content on the inside than I’ve ever been, but I also know that there’s more work to do on the outside. I’m glad I lost 4 pounds this week. Now I’m working toward being smaller next week, which has happened several times this year. 

I know that if I shed some of the excess I’ll feel better than I do now even though I don’t feel awful (yet.) I’d rather see the scale move down than move up, and it seems like the only way to make that happen is to go back to tracking everything that I put in my mouth. I started doing that when I started my new position, and it definitely makes me more congnizant of what I’m doing.

It’s incredibly frustrating, but I don’t hate myself for messing up so much of the work that I put into getting healthy. The truth is that I love myself enough to see my needs here and to change them. 

This road is a long and tedious one, but I’m still here…still not indulging in everything I want and recognizing that I spent far too much time trying to fill the gaping hole in my heart with food again last year. 

Now I’m focusing more on seeing myself the way God sees me, and I’m asking Him to be strong in my weakness. He promised to do that before I ever asked, and now I’m finally starting to take Him up on it in several areas of my life (including this one.)

I’m bigger than I want to be, and I’m working toward fixing that. It’s not my top priority, but at least it’s back in my top 5. I need to incorporate exercise back into my daily life, which means I may have to skip other things. (More on that later.)

I have a long way to go, but it feels like I’m moving in the right direction. 

Two Years Later

I can’t believe that it’s been two years since I first walked in to NOLA Church. I know I gush about it frequently, but it’s because of the incredible impact being there has had on my life. 

When I arrived I was broken and in desperate need of the radical life change that Paul described in Romans. I was drowing in sin, directionless, and I was scared to change any of it. 

I thought I had to get my act together before I could turn to God. I knew what the Bible said about repentance, which is the act of turning away from sin. I just wasn’t ready to turn away; I honestly didn’t know where to begin.

My sins felt so big; my shame felt all-encompasing. At the same time I was filled with pride. I wanted the folks around me to know that I had grown up in church. I know verses like Romans 3:23 and Jeremiah 29:11. I had tons of Bible passages memorized, even the one in John when Jesus says that we’ll have troubles, but don’t worry because He’s overcome the world. (John 16:33)

I knew all about Him, but it wasn’t until I showed up (and kept showing up) that I began to understand the difference between knowing about Him and having a relationship with Him.

I wrote about that a year ago. Those changes were significant, but I’ve gone through many new changes over the last 365 days. I’m definitely still in a season of major change, but it’s cool to look back at where I was and where I am right now.

At this time last year I had experienced a lot of growth, but I was still struggling with surrender. I struggle with it now, but it’s not as hard to invite God into my situations as it once was. 

The first time I met with my pastor, Monte, he said, “Don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable” or something like that. I remember looking at him like he was crazy (and a little scary) because I love comfort. I seek it constantly…through food, relationships, and all kinds of other things that provide momentary satisfaction. I didn’t understand what he meant back then, but I do now. 

Surrender isn’t easy; it’s not comfortable, but it’s important to recognize that without God, I’m nothing. I mean, if you know me, you know that I haven’t always made perfect choices. I’ve made mistakes; I’ve been too dependent on things for satisfaction. I’ve been wrong a lot. 

In January of last year I had an opportunity to surrender my feelings to God, and I said, “no way.” I was prepared to fight Him for something that I didn’t really want instead of asking what He wanted from me. I did things my way once again because it was too scary to let go, and as a result I went through a lot of unecessary pain. 

For months I refused to ask God to intervene in that circumstance. I gave other things up (things that I liked that I knew didn’t please Him,) which made me feel as though I had given up enough. (Uh, note to self: God’s way is so much better.) I did not yet understand that I’ll never surrender something to Him that He doesn’t replace with something better. 

In July of last year I had an even bigger crisis of faith. I wasn’t prepared to give God what was already His in financial circumstances (tithing,) and after the realization that God doesn’t need my money, I started tithing because I wanted to put Him first in every part of my life (even money.) That wasn’t exactly easy to do because I like to be in control. I’ve always taken pride in being autonomous, and I still am. I just choose to say, “Hey God, I trust you to be My Provider,” and He has been so faithful. (God is awesome like that.) 

Life didn’t suddenly become perfect because I love Jesus. I still struggle with food and other things. I know that my desire to eat more than I should is something I have to surrender. (Again, I’ve proven that I can’t do it on my own.) I’ve also been open about how hard it is to turn away from it.) I just know that life without God sucks, but knowing Him gives me so much hope. 

In looking back I see that I’ve grown in my relationship with God. I’m not as self-centered as I was, and I love sharing His love with everyone I meet. I want others to feel the peace, joy, and contentment that I feel because of His mercy and unconditional love. I get passionate about it because  it has radically altered my entire life. 

I couldn’t have imagined all of the amazing changes that I would experience the first time I went to NOLA Church. I am so thankful for God’s love and for the community of people there who have walked with me on this incredible journey so far. 

I’m humbled and amazed by God’s willingness to use me as His vessel, and I’m already looking forward to seeing where that leads in the next year. As long as Jesus stays at the center, I know it will be better than I can imagine.

*****

You didn’t think, did you, that just by pointing your finger at others you would distract God from seeing all your misdoings and from coming down on you hard? Or did you think that because he’s such a nice God, he’d let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.

Romans 2:3-4 (The Message)

Are Cankles A Job Hazard?

I feel like I’m adjusting well to life at the office, but I’m having one issue that I wasn’t expecting. My feet and ankles are swelling.

Is it safe to assume that it’s because I’m sitting a lot more than normal? Several people have said that, but why would sitting make your feet swell? What should I be doing to combat it?

I’ve been taking my lunch to work each day, and I’ve made packed healthy and well-balanced meals. I’m also drinking a lot of water. I bring it by the gallon, so I can refill my pretty Starbucks tumbler all day.

I’m not incorporating exercise into my daily routine yet, but I know that will help the swelling too. Won’t it?

It’s amazing to realize how much I move around on an average day. Coming here has definitely made me much more sedentary than I was, so I need to figure out how to be active during the days that I’m here too.

I walk to the far restroom when I need to go, and I spend my little breaks walking around the building. I just need to do more, and I’m not sure where to start. I’m only here Monday through Thursday of most weeks, but that’s a big chunk of time.

I’m eating healthier things, and I’m going to bed earlier. I’m drinking water, and I need to exercise.

Does anyone have ideas to help reduce the swelling? If so, I’d love to hear them.