Honesty is the Best Policy

AppleOne week from tomorrow I’ll be heading in for my last skin reduction surgery.  Hurray!  This will be my fifth operation in the past 10 months, and believe me, I’m ready to be finished.  In preparation, starting today I’m going back on the LCD plan of New Direction®.  For those of you unfamiliar with New Direction®, this means that I’ll be consuming ND products for 2 meals, 2 snacks and then I’ll have a light meal that I prepare.  I’m doing this for a few reasons.

First, New Direction® products are chock full of protein and protein helps with healing.  I’ve found with the previous surgeries that if I stick with ND products, my healing has been faster.  I’m all for that!

Second, I’ve gained some weight.  Ugh.  Now, as someone who writes a blog about losing weight and keeping it off, that’s not an easy thing to admit.  However, I just re-read a post I wrote about getting back on track (Help! I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up – Part Two, if you’re interested), and this is what I said that hit me between the eyes this morning:

Stop playing Hide and Seek
When I was a young child whenever I would do something I knew I shouldn’t have, my inclination was to hide.  I did this for a few reasons: I didn’t want to get in additional trouble, I was afraid of the consequences, but most importantly – I was embarrassed.  I was ashamed of my behavior and I thought by hiding, no one would find out.

The same can be said for this dieting battle.  Whenever I’ve “fallen off the wagon”, the first thing I want to do is hide.  And not just from others – from myself as well! I think if I ignore what happened, it didn’t really happen.  If I don’t talk about it, if I keep it to myself, I can pretend that everything’s fine. But everything is not fine and it will only be a matter of time before it’s obvious to me and those around me.  So, it’s time to stop hiding.

One of the most important resources that I’ve had through this journey/battle is the support of family and friends.  While I appreciate and NEED the support of those around me, the most important source of support has come from those who are in the New Direction ® program or are fighting their own battle to get healthy in another way.  These are the people who are in the trenches with me. They get it. They understand in a way that those without weight issues never will. They are my fellow warriors and I need them.

In those times when I feel like hiding, I go to them instead.  I connect. I tell the truth, hard as it may be, and I allow them to come alongside me and lift me up and help get me back on track.  This connection is vital.

Yikes!  This, this right there is why I began writing.  I knew that there would come a point where I’d want to remember some lessons I’d learned, but being sixty years old, I was afraid I’d forget!  And this lesson – wow, what an important one!  Be honest, especially with the people who support you.

So, honestly, I have gained weight.  Not gonna lie and not gonna hide it.  I have been struggling over the past month to regain control of my eating, but that’s not been working out so well.  Do I know why?  Yes!  I’m freaking tired!  As you know, I consider this weight loss battle one that involves my physical, emotional and spiritual sides and I am exhausted on every side.  Most days, I consider it a victory if I can climb out of bed.

Knowing that I’m completely out of gas has been helpful, but if I’m really honest, I’m still a bit annoyed with myself.

It’s also a little embarrassing to admit that I’ve gained weight when for the past year or more I’ve been held up as the poster child for New Direction® or as the queen of successful weight loss.  I know that people look towards me for inspiration, and I don’t want to disappoint them.  But, the truth is, I’m human.  I make mistakes.  I eat too many carbs.  I skip exercising.  I don’t drink enough water.  I even ate a donut and had some ice cream!    If that shocks you, I apologize.

But the news isn’t all bad.  Yes, I’m tired, yes, I’ve gained weight, yes, my favorite jeans are too tight, but NO!  I’m not discouraged!  I can’t even say I’m really upset.  How is that possible?  Talk about paradigm shift!

I think it’s because I finally understand what my new reality is.

Physically, I know that my body is no longer the twice-the-size-of-me version.  I know that this weight gain is temporary.  I know it’s the result of the surgeries, and of being exhausted.  I know that I need rest and that I’m going to get it soon.

Emotionally, I know that food is not the problem solver it pretends to be.  I know that “comfort food” is only comforting for a moment and that the emotional cost that comes later is not worth the price.  I know that my emotions are not to be feared and I know where to go for help when I’m feeling overwhelmed.  I know that I’m more confident, more adventurous and more secure now and I like that!

Spiritually, I know that God has been with me even through this period.  He continues to teach me lessons and instead of being resistant to what He’s trying to say, I find myself leaning in to listen more and wanting to accept the truths He’s telling me:  I am loved.  I am forgiven.  I am a work in progress.  God has got my back and He will see me through.

My recovery will begin in earnest next week, actually, I think it’s begun today with this post.  I appreciate your support, and especially those who’ve joined the Through Thick and Thin Discussion Group on Facebook.  It’s helpful to have a group I can be honest with.  You all are very encouraging and I’m thankful to call you my friends.

I do have a recovery plan and I’m sure in just a few weeks, I’ll be able to fit into my favorite jeans again and over the summer I’ll be out walking the streets of New York without any issues and I’ll be strolling along the beaches of Ocean City, NJ enjoying the sunshine.  If you see someone looking rested and refreshed, living their best life, that would be me.  Stop and say hello!

 

 

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Happy Easter!

I wanted to take a moment and wish you all a happy, healthy Easter!

As you know, the spiritual side of my battle has been instrumental in my fight to get healthy.  As a Christian, Easter represents the reason why I can have any hope of victory.  The empty tomb memorializes Jesus’ victory over sin and death and what’s exciting about that is – the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in me!  How awesome is that!

In practical terms, that means I have access to a huge resource for strength, encouragement, determination, persistence, and power that is living right inside me.  As I do the work that God has given me to do, He helps by providing me with the strength, encouragement, determination, persistence, power and anything else I may need to get the job done.

As I celebrate Easter, I want to remember that I’m not in this battle alone.  God has called me to live a healthier lifestyle for Him and as I do that, I know that He will be with me every step of the way.  If you are a believer, the same is true for you!

I’d like to leave you with a prayer from The High Calling.  This is my personal prayer and a prayer I’m praying for you!  Happy Easter!

All-powerful God, I do want to know your power, the power that raised Jesus from the dead.  I do want to experience this power as it continues to transform my life and as you work through me for the works of your kingdom.

Help me, Lord, to know you well so that I might know your power.  Help me to live with confidence in your power.  Empower me to do your bidding, to live for your glory in every part of life.  Amen.

Happy Easter 2019

New York, New York

IMG_1024I just got back from a three day trip to the Big Apple.  My youngest daughter is a hair stylist and she wanted to take a class there, but New York terrifies her, so I went as the chaperone….or as the bouncer.  We stayed in SoHo in a cute little boutique hotel – on the fourth floor – with no elevator.  (That’s one way to get your steps in!)  For those of you unfamiliar with SoHo, it’s in lower Manhattan and is home to Little Italy, Chinatown and the Cast-Iron district.  SoHo is known for its eclectic collection of art galleries, restaurants and of course, shopping.

 

IMG_7711While my daughter was in class, I spent my time wandering the streets, one of my favorite NY pastimes.  On Monday I visited the World Trade Center Memorial and did some shopping in that area.  I’ve been to the 9/11 Museum in the past, and if you’ve not visited it yet, I highly recommend it.

 

High Line1On Tuesday, I fought the windy weather and crossed off one more item on my goal list:  walk the High Line.  The High Line is a 1.45 mile long rails-to-trails public park.  It’s built on an elevated freight line that runs from Gansevoort St. to 34th St. on Manhattan’s West Side.  The space is home to gardens, art and has some awesome views of the city and harbor.  It was a little early in the season to enjoy the gardens, but having that vantage point for city sites and architecture was awesome, even with the high winds.

 

Before we left the city, we were able to meet up with a former student of mine, or as I refer to him, my adopted son.  We had an awful meal in a restaurant at Pennsylvania Station, but we had a lot of laughs and enjoyed catching up with each other.  It was a great way to end our NY adventure.

NYC collage
Altogether I logged in over 30 miles of walking in 3 days.  Quite an accomplishment since I haven’t had much energy to do anything recently.  I’m gearing up for my last surgery to come in early May, so this was a nice time of re-energizing.  I also learned some good lessons while I was there that I’m going to take with me into this next phase of battle:

 

  • Keep putting one foot in front of the other, even when you’re tired, and you’ll get to your destination.
  • Be prepared for storms, they’re going to come.
  • Keep your head down and move forward, especially going against the wind.
  • Friends and family make all the difference.

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After Before and After

ONE YEAR picToday I’m celebrating my one year rebirthday!  It was one year ago today that I reached my goal weight.  It’s hard to believe that it was two years ago that I began the New Direction Weight Loss System®, but time has passed and here I am looking in the rearview mirror at the path I’ve traveled.

When I walked into the New Direction center back on April 6, 2017, I was literally twice my current weight.  I was tired, frustrated, worried, a little depressed, and unsure if this journey would end any differently than others I’d been on over the previous 50 years.  Thankfully, on April 5, 2018, it ended quite differently.

What has made the difference?  I think the main difference is one I’ve talked about many times:  approaching this as a battle with three battlefronts – the physical battlefront, the emotional battlefront and the spiritual battlefront.  Concentrating on what went into my brain and into my soul as much as what went into my body was a game changer.

I’m sure I’ll write more about all of this in the future (I’m even considering writing a real book), but for today, I just want to take a moment and be thankful.

Thank you to the staff at Main Line Health New Direction.  Courtney, Janet, Mary Ann, Lynn, Julie and Dr. Ryan are a stellar group of individuals.  They are a constant source of encouragement and what I like best about them is they understand that this is not a “one size fits all” endeavor.  They are well aware that everyone’s journey is a little different and that there will be bumps in the road along the way.  They’ve created an environment that allows people to be honest about where they are and they do their best to help them get where they need to be.  Love them!

Thank you to my friends in the New Direction Weight Loss Support Group and Through Thick and Thin Discussion Group on Facebook.  These two groups have allowed me to make friends all over the country and have been a wealth of support in this battle.  They have made me laugh till my sides ache and cry real tears as we’ve shared our experiences with each other.  They have certainly made this journey/battle a lot more fun!

Thanks to my inner support group:  my family and close friends.  You all have been with me through my literal ups and downs and I thank you for never making me feel that your love was contingent on my dress size.  I appreciate your prayers, your notes, emails, texts and phone calls through this process.  I love spending time with you all and especially love that that time now includes being active together!  Love you all!

And finally, I want to give thanks to God – talk about someone being with you through thick and thin!  God has been with me through every moment of my life and He’s never proven Himself more faithful than He has over these past two years.  He literally guided me to the New Direction program, has connected me with so many great people, has opened doors I didn’t even know were there and continues to surprise me with the depth of His love and concern.  Love Him the most!

One year ago today I met my weight loss goal.  In just a few weeks, I’ll finish up with skin reduction surgery (a total of 5 surgeries), a one year long process.  I’m looking forward to this next year as I fully recover from all this change and begin to build up my body, mind and soul.  Thanks for joining me on this journey and here’s to success for your own battle!

Bef Aft Christmas

Back and Forth

Amtrak-Roomette-700x550I love riding the train.  It’s my favorite mode of travel.  I find the rhythmic pulse of the cars going over the rails and the faint sound of the horn as it comes to a crossing immensely calming.  Generally, I have a hard time staying awake while riding the train.

My husband and I recently returned from a week’s vacation to Florida and we rode the train there and back.  On the way home, we were in a small roomette.  If you’ve never seen one of these rooms, it’s not quite the luxurious experience you may expect.  They are TI-NY!  Basically, you’re in a small closet (3’6″ x 6’8″) with two windows, two chairs that face each other and convert to a bed and a flip-down bunk overhead.  It may not be luxurious, but it’s comfy and it sure beats fighting traffic!

Since the chairs face each other, one person always has the view of what lies ahead and the other the view of what has passed.  As we rode home, I thought that this was quite the metaphor of my weight loss journey.

One temptation that those of us who have struggled with weight loss over the years have is to constantly look to the past.  For me, I had years of failed weight loss attempts stacked up behind me.  I could list off the various diets and programs I had tried, and how I’d never reached my goal weight on any of them, and how I gained back whatever I’d lost.  As I began New Direction®, keeping my eyes solely on the past and believing that the past would determine my future would have doomed any chance of success I had.

But for me, pretending like the past never happened, that all those failed diet attempts were meaningless, was like throwing away the encyclopedia of my life (Wikipedia for those under 40).  There’s a ton of information there!  As I’ve looked back and examined what drove me to “blossom” into a morbidly obese weight class, I could see how I got there.  I discovered how I used food for things other than for nourishment and I can now identify situations, people, events and foods that can trigger poor eating and I’m better prepared to meet the challenges they present.

Believing that what happened in the past would determine what will happen in my future is a dangerous belief and one that could overpower me if I’m not careful.   I am not afraid of my past.  I’m not afraid, but I don’t need to live there.  What I want to do now is look at it, learn from it, revisit it when necessary and apply what I’ve learned to the circumstances I’m currently in.

Another temptation us life-time dieters experience is constantly looking to the future.  We want to believe that the “answer” lies in the next program, the next diet, the next exercise routine.  We want to ignore the past, particularly the unpleasant bits, and keep looking towards the horizon, believing that tomorrow will bring its own magical relief.  This is especially true when we find ourselves “off the wagon”.  How many times after overindulging did I say, “Oh well, guess I’ll get back on track tomorrow.”  Too many times, I’m afraid.  Now I’ve found that I agree with Apollo Creed from the Rocky films, “There is no tomorrow!”  Tomorrow is TODAY.  Why wait for tomorrow to correct a behavior I can correct today?  Not waiting for tomorrow is bringing me close to celebrating my one year anniversary of successful maintenance.

Back in the roomette, on the way home I was facing where we’d been and my husband was facing where we were going.  We were both looking out of the windows during the course of the day, and as we traveled along he would say, “You’ve got to see this building that’s coming up!”  or “Just ahead there are some deer grazing towards the back of a field.”  or “Keep your eye out for the mural on the barn.”  Again, what a metaphor for this weight loss journey.

From my first day of this program, I relied on people who had gone ahead of me for advice, support and encouragement. They were looking forward and they warned me of upcoming pitfalls, pointed out things that could help me along the way and shored up my confidence when it was lacking.  I’m forever grateful to them.  And now it’s my turn to look back and do the same for others who are coming up after me.

So, for those of you just starting this battle, those of you who are in the middle of the fight, or those of you who are close to victory, I want to encourage you to look back and learn from your own past, then look to the today – live in the moment, seize the day and don’t put things off until tomorrow.  This is not an easy war to win, but it is winnable!  And when you’ve won, reach out to those who are coming up behind you and help them on to victory.

 

 

 

Weight-Loss Warriors

Weight Loss WarriorsWhile in this battle to get healthy, I have been blessed to be around some wonderful weight-loss warriors.  Men and women who are fighting the fight, challenging themselves to do things they never thought they could, picking themselves up when they fall and most importantly, encouraging others who are in the battle alongside them.  These warriors have inspired me, and have kept me motivated and now, I get to share them with you!

Beginning today I’m starting a new feature on the Through Thick and Thin blog called  “Weight Loss Warriors”.  In this section you’ll get to meet some of my warrior friends as they share their experiences.  These warriors are in various stages in their battle to get healthy, and are on various different programs, but they have one thing in common:  they don’t give up.

First up is the original Warrior, my friend Jude.  I met Jude through a Facebook support group for people on the New Direction Weight Loss System®.  Jude is a no nonsense kinda girl and we hit it off right away.  We discovered that we didn’t live far from each other and last fall, we were able to meet in person.   Jude is a steadfast motivator to others who are on the New Direction program as she encourages participants to drink their water, eat celery, get moving and never give up on their “new direction”.

So, without further adieu, here’s Jude!

Please introduce yourself.
Hi, I’m Jude MC, aka the original “warrior”.  I’m a total “Jersey Girl” who loves the beach and a great cocktail.  I’m 39 years old for the 11th time and I only count past 39 for money or chocolate!  I’m happily married to the man of my dreams who I met at the mall when I was 15.  We have three children.  I specialize in connecting people for a great cause, creating memorable networking events, and I know how to throw a fabu party!

What does “healthy” mean to you?
To me, healthy means choosing to be healthy by eating foods that suit my body and exercising every day.

Why did you decide to make a change to your health?
I always knew I had a metabolism issue.  My mom died at age 36 from a metabolic issue that contributed to her obesity.

I was never one to lay on the couch.  I’ve been super active and always loved my fruits and veggies.  I’m an energizer bunny and I always could keep going and going and going.
Before the New Direction, the foods I was told to eat by a nutritionist or a doctor just made me heavier.  I would work out every day and a pound or two would come off, then 6 pounds would go back on.  It was a vicious cycle.  The only program that worked for me before New Direction was Atkins.  Thirty pounds fell off in a month, but then I learned how to binge.  When I started eat bread again, I gained back double the weight.  

For years I had been trying to find a doctor or nutritionist to help me.   I went to so many different specialists who kept testing my thyroid and running blood tests, and they found nothing except that I had low blood pressure and a slow metabolism.  It was so frustrating to hear them say, “You’re beautiful.  You’re just a big girl.”  or “Work out harder and eat less.”  Ugh!  None of them ever shared with me that you should drink more water or other things that would have been more helpful.

Then one day I ran into a woman at my gym who I’d not seen in a long time.  She had lost 100 pounds on New Direction.  I said, “Give me your doctor’s number.”  And the rest is history.

What was the most difficult part of making this change?
I’d have to say there really wasn’t any difficulty.  I wanted the program to work and I made the choice to do it.  I chose to be successful, and seeing your results inspired and motivated me even more.  The toughest part of the program was the “ketosis flu” in the beginning, but I fought through that.

Where are you in your journey and what does that look like for you?
I’ve lost 100 pounds in about 9 months on the program.  I’ve been on maintenance since September 2018 and I’ll continue to head in my “new direction”.  I really have never been an emotional eater, but I’ve learned that I have food triggers.  I’m figuring out what those foods are and I’m staying away from them.  I meet with a nutritionist about every three weeks or so and discuss what I eat and what foods are safe to re-introduce.

What are your current healthy living goals?
My primary goal is to stay under 160 pounds for the rest of my life.

What specific changes have you made that are working for you?
I only eat lean meats and vegetables, and I drink 150oz of water daily.

What would you say have been the key factors to your success?
Increasing my water intake, using New Direction® products, working out every day and choosing to stay in my new direction.

What motivates you?
I never want to see the look of disappointment in someone’s eyes if I gained the weight back.  Being able to make a difference in the world and being a trailblazer for others also motivates me.

What do you do when things get difficult?  In other words, how have you been able to sustain your weight loss journey?
In the beginning of the program when things got difficult, I would eat celery.  It’s a good, safe binge.  I would also drink chicken broth and if was hungry at the end of the day, I would just go to bed early.  To be honest, this program wasn’t that hard for me.  I followed the program, I drank the water, and I enjoyed the flavor of the products.  I learned how to work with them and add to them to mix things up.  I never cheated because I saw results each and every week.  The last two months dragged on and the doctor told me that it was okay to stop and go on to maintenance, but I had set a goal of losing 100 pounds and I wasn’t stopping until I hit it.  I took two months for the last two pounds to come off and I never gave in or gave up…I warriored on!  I encouraged others to do the same.

How has your life changed as you’ve adopted a healthier lifestyle?
Complete strangers walk up to me and say, “Wow!  What a difference!”

Quick questions:
-Favorite healthy food:  Salmon and zucchini
-Favorite form of exercise:  Barre class and bike riding
-Favorite Non-Scale Victory:  Early on at 50 pounds lost, being able to fit in an airplane seat with room to spare on each side.  Final non-scale victory of being able to buy boots that are knee height and zip them up over my calfs.  Score!
-One thing that you enjoy doing now that you couldn’t do before:
 The strange thing is that I can still do all the same things now that I did 100 pounds ago.  I’ve always been active and could keep up with the best of them.  If I had to pick one thing, it would be being able to get up out of a chair in one try, not two or three, LOL.

Thanks for sharing, Jude!  Warrior on, my friend!

 

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A Little Fashion for Distraction

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Philadelphia Museum of Art

Yesterday I took a break from recovering and went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art with a friend.  We were there to view the exhibit Fabulous Fashion:  From Dior’s New Look to Now.  I’m not a big fashion maven, but I have to admit that it was a lot of fun seeing how fashion has progressed (and in my opinion, regressed in some cases) since WWII.

One of the more interesting things to see for me was a little video about haute couture fashion.  A Philadelphia designer explained that haute couture is created for a specific person to wear.  These designs can take months to go from sketch pad to actual creation because there are dozens of steps involved, including many consultations and fittings with the client.  A woman who donated many of the dresses in the exhibit to the museum was interviewed in this video and she said that she liked couture dresses because they fit well, felt good and were fun.  I think that’s a good way to think about clothing.

Prior to reaching my goal weight, I didn’t think clothes were fun at all and they certainly didn’t fit well or feel all that good.  Mostly, there were used to hide my “imperfections”.  What a difference losing a bit of poundage makes!  I might not be ready for couture fashion, but as my burgeoning closet will attest, I’m all about clothes fitting well, feeling good and I’m always up for a bit of fun!

Here’s a look at some of the exhibit:

 

Once and Done?

I have been on many, many diets over the years.  With each diet I thought, “This is the one!  I’ll do this and finally be done!”  Unfortunately, I was never done.  In all my years of dieting, I never even reached my goal weight much less kept any of the weight off for a significant period of time.  However, after joining the New Direction Weight Loss System® I was able to reach my goal weight in April of 2018 and I’ve been maintaining that weight loss ever since.

At the moment, I’m still maintaining, but I’m in an interesting place.  Currently, I’m recovering from my third surgery for skin removal in 7 months and this last recovery has been a bit challenging.  Almost four weeks post surgery I’m still swollen, bloated, and uncomfortable.  Generally, I feel like a sausage that’s spent a bit too much time on the grill.

My eating has been inconsistent during this time to say the least – everything from not eating at all to eating a bit too much or eating a few things that weren’t the most healthy choices.  My weight can fluctuate several pounds from day to day, so the scale is unreliable as a measurement of my progress or helpful as a resource to determine if the weight gain is from fluid or from gluten-free chocolate chunk cookies.

There are moments when I’m frustrated (like now when sitting at my desk is somewhat painful), and there are other moments when I’m a little worried (like when I have to fight to button my jeans).  However, there are times when I’m at total peace.  (I like those moments.)

In a recent moment of clarity and peace, I had this thought – why would I think that weight loss and maintenance should be a once and done endeavor?  I don’t clean my house once and think that I never have to do it again.  I don’t feed my family once and think that I never have to feed them again.  I’m sure my husband appreciates that I don’t shower once or cut my toe nails once or shave my legs once and think I never have to do any of those things again.  I certainly don’t dye the gray in my hair once and think that I’ll never see that silver stripe again.  Most things in my life require some degree of repetition and maintenance.  My physical, emotional and spiritual health is no different.

So, instead of denying or ignoring that fact, I’m going to embrace it.  I realize now that maintaining my weight is going to be a daily battle.  Some days it may only be a skirmish, other days it may be full-blown war, and I’m hopeful that some days there may even be a truce.  Whatever the case, I want to be prepared and willing to engage in the fight.

To do that, I want to remember that being up a pound or two does not signal failure.  It signals “battle stations”.  It’s a reminder that this battle is being fought on the physical, emotional and spiritual fronts, so I have to consider what is happening in all three of those areas – not just the physical!  Maybe I will need to cut back on my food intake or switch up my food choices or maybe instead it’s a signal that I need to take a rest.  Or it could be a signal that I’m having some trouble emotionally and I need to spend some time with a good friend or maybe visit with a counselor.  Or it could even be a signal that I need to spend some quality time with God.  Whatever the case, I know I have to look beyond my cupboards for the answer.

Today has already been a good day in that fight.  I chose to go back on the LCD* plan for a little while and I began that process this morning.  I’m hoping the extra protein and nutrients will help the physical side of things, particularly with healing.  I’ve connected  with friends to help with the emotional side and on the spiritual side, I had a nice chat with God this morning and I’m keeping up with my read-the-Bible challenge.

If you’re fighting your way through maintenance like me, know that you don’t have to do it alone.  I’d love for you to join the Through Thick and Thin Discussion Group.  Mondays are “Maintenance Mondays” where tips, recipes, ideas and advice is shared for this part of the journey.   This process is so much easier when we share with each other, so I hope that you will be willing to share your experiences.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:  If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.  Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10

 

*LCD = Low Calorie Diet plan from New Direction Weight Loss System

 

 

The Quest for Treasure

oakI’ve got a new guilty pleasure.  I’ve begun watching the History Channel series, “The Curse of Oak Island”.  The show is in its sixth season, so I have some catching up to do, but now that the holidays are over, I’m enjoying doing a little binge watching.

Basically, the show is about the Lagina brothers, Rick and Marty, who along with several partners, (“The Fellowship of the Dig”, as they are called), are on a quest to find hidden treasure buried beneath Oak Island, Nova Scotia.

The Oak Island story began over 200 years ago, when 3 teenagers were drawn to the island by mysterious lights.  When they arrived on the island they noticed a circular depression in the ground by a tree from which they saw a dangling pulley.  Knowing that this was an area frequented by pirates, they began the first dig for buried treasure.  From there the history is a little murky, (as with any good mystery), but men have been searching for treasure on Oak Island ever since.

Theories abound about what the actual treasure could be.  Everything from the lost manuscripts of William Shakespeare to the crown jewels of France to the ark of the covenant and the menorah from Solomon’s temple.  While on the surface, some of these ideas seem at the minimum improbable and at the most a little kooky, the reality is that at least six people have already lost their lives in the quest.  It’s serious business.

For me, while I am intrigued by the treasure, and being a history lover, I’m enjoying finding out more about the time period surrounding the mystery, what really has drawn me in is the relationship between the Lagina brothers.  These two brothers couldn’t be any more different in temperament:  Rick, the oldest, is the dreamer, the romantic, the one who has whole-heartedly believed the story since he read about it in an article in Reader’s Digest back in the day and Marty, the younger, is the “show me the data” guy, the engineer, the “skeptic-in-chief”.  You may think that such differing perspectives would cause friction and certainly disagreement, and could lead to the dissolution of the “fellowship”, but actually, it has had the opposite effect.  Over and over, Rick and Marty have demonstrated their love for each other and for those in the Oak Island “family”.  Their familial bond has served to strengthen the fellowship and that in turn, has strengthened those with whom they have contact.  For me, this is the treasure of Oak Island and worth more than anything that has been buried.

The Lagina’s quest has reminded me of my own quest for treasure.  When I first put spade to dirt almost two years ago by starting the New Direction Weight Loss Program®, I believed that my treasure would come in the form of numbers on a scale. As I dug down to the harder soil, the packed down earth of life where emotions go to hide in the bedrock of failure and fear, I have discovered that those numbers on the scale were a mere pittance of the treasure that I’ve uncovered.

While on my quest, I’ve encountered others who were on a similar hunt.  We joined together and bonded into our own fellowship, “The Fellowship of the Lean”.  We have jumped into the “hole”, getting our hands dirty by lifting each other up, praying for one another, cheering each other on, supporting each other through difficult times and refusing to give up the quest.  This bond of friendship has been a source of strength and certainly has been part of my treasure.

Discovering hidden talents, and participating in activities that I never thought possible like writing this blog, speaking to various groups, publishing a book, hiking, biking and kayaking are unquestionably part of my treasure trove.

Perhaps the most abundant treasure came in the form of a deeper appreciate and understanding of God’s love for me.  Like a map with “x” marking the spot, God has led me to a wonderful destination filled with hope, and faith, and adventure.  Having a deeper relationship with Him has been the greatest treasure of all.

If you’re on a quest like me, and you’d like to be a part of the Fellowship, I’d encourage you to join the Through Thick and Thin Discussion Group on Facebook.  This is a closed group, so only those who are part of the group can view what is posted.  I hope you’ll join in the conversation by posting your own experiences, questions, tips and suggestions.  Who knows what treasure you’ll discover!

 

Surgery Update:  The arm lift surgery that I had back in November went really well and I’ve healed enough that I’m scheduled for the next procedure this week.  Surgery #3 will be a leg lift.  As with my other surgeries, I’ll be posting some pre-op/post-op tips about it in the future.  In the meantime, I appreciate all of your well wishes and prayers!

 

 

Confession is Good for the Soul…and Weight Loss too

Earlier this week I got to spend some time with a very good friend of mine.  She and I have been fellow warriors in this battle to get healthy.  We’ve been on the same program, have both reached our goal weight and now are battling our way through maintenance.  The holidays have not been easy on either of us.  We’ve struggled through surgery (mine), injury (hers), sickness (both) and the usual hustle and bustle that comes with this time of year.  As the new year arrived, it came with the realization that neither of us were where we wanted to be.

I was really looking forward to being with my friend because I needed someone I could talk to who knows exactly what I’m experiencing because she’s experiencing it too.

Since my arm lift surgery in November, I have gained weight.  Some of it is due to the surgery itself, some of it is due to illness, but some of it is because I had a few too many Christmas cookies.  Over lunch, I took a deep breath and shared what has been happening with my friend.  As I shared,  I  was totally honest about how I was doing physically, how I was doing emotionally, and  about how I was feeling spiritually.   My friend in turn, shared her struggles with me.  As the two of us talked, and laughed (and cried) together, we could see the purpose in God putting us together first as friends, but specifically making sure that we were put together for this little outing.  He knew that we were struggling long enough and it was time to put an end to it.

As we chatted, this scripture came to mind:

“Confess your sins one to another and pray for one another so that you may be healed.”  James 5:16

The more I read the Bible, the more I realize that God is amazingly smart.  (Thank you, Captain Obvious.)  What I mean by that is, many times I’ll read something like the James verse and think, “Confess your sins…yeah, I guess that’s something we should do.  I want to be forgiven, so confessing is a good idea.”  But then, the reality of scripture hits me like a two-by-four.

The James scripture says “Confess your sins one to another” – wait a minute, it doesn’t say “Confess your sins to God alone?” or “Confess your sins in private with your priest or minister?”  Nope, it says, “Confess your sins to EACH OTHER“!  Yikes!  Each other – Why is that?  Having just lived through this, I have a few ideas.

First of all, I didn’t want to admit to anyone that I had gained a few pounds.  Why?  Because I was embarrassed!  Seriously, think about it.  I write a blog about weight loss, I’ve just written a book about how to get through the holidays and maintain your weight, and I even have occasions where I speak on the subject of getting healthy.  While I’ve never said I’m perfect or that this journey has been easy, I still didn’t like the idea of having to admit that I’d gained weight.  It seemed contrary to everything I’m about and more importantly,  it was embarrassing.

Since I didn’t want to tell anyone, I had to figure out what to do on my own.  Bad idea.  Figuring out things on my own is what got me into this unhealthy mess in the first place. Putting myself in this position brought back some old, familiar, unwanted and unhealthy behaviors and emotions like secrecy, stress, and panic.

As I shared with my friend, the reasons why God tells us to confess to one another became apparent.  This act of confession took away my need for secrecy, which took away the stress which took away the panic.  Suddenly, things didn’t seem so overwhelming.  I even felt lighter!

By confessing my struggle, my friend felt she could confess hers and she began to experience the relief from secrecy, stress and panic as well.  The two of us began to see how powerful this moment was.  We remembered, once again, that we were not in this battle alone, we had each other and we had a God who loved us enough to put us together.

We didn’t end our time with only confession.  We did the next part of the verse too. “Pray for one another so that you may be healed.”  Right there in the booth of the diner, we prayed for each other.

What a huge moment for us both.  Bringing our struggles out into the light of day took away the shame and embarrassment that we’d been feeling.  Those feelings were replaced with hope, and strength, and encouragement and understanding.

I’m sure there will be times coming up in the future when I will again gain a few pounds and I’ll be tempted to keep that information to myself.  However, I’ve learned a valuable lesson:  “Confess your sins one to another and pray for one another so that you may be healed.”