Twenty-one. Been There, Done That.

I’ve been struggling with being 35. I’ve been reflecting a lot, and comparing my life experiences now to when I was 21. I can’t help it. Last weekend I slipped on my 6 inch heels, a short skirt and a fitted black top, makeup applied, a touch of bronzer, and I was ready for the night.

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It has been awhile that I have actually got dressed up and gone out with some girl friends, let alone without my husband. However, a couple new spots were opening up and they seemed like there was a perfect opportunity to get dressed up and have some laughs with my sister and another girl; a younger girl. Unfortunately, the girl was 21 and I mean, I don’t blame her for her behavior because I remember at the age, I was pretty similar and had an, “I-don’t-give-a-shit-attitude”, but I was sober.

I don’t drink; by choice, of course. I was just going to go as the designated driver. So yeah, I felt like a mother hen.  I know sounds like so much fun, right? Well, I actually did enjoy myself, but I couldn’t shake the blatant fact that I was older than this carefree girl who was now stumbling and couldn’t hold her liquor.

I found myself taking on the role of a mother. She kept wandering off, and while I wanted to keep her safe and not get taken advantage of, I wondered where I was supposed to draw the line. I mean, was it when I kept catching her kissing random guys, and then security kept having me chase her down to bait and hook her so that I could reel her back in to have a seat, drink some water and just mellow out. Perhaps if I would’ve drank, maybe I’d be falling all over myself.  I mean I certainly had my fair share of those moments, yea, back in the day. But it’s not exactly a sign of fun times when you have to pry someone else away from another guy’s lips.

To make things clear, it was my older sister’s friend/coworker, and I just couldn’t bring myself to abandon this fragile girl who an hour or two before showed her vulnerable side to me as she discussed all of her “issues”. She suffers from an eating disorder, she is bipolar, oh the list goes on. Overall, she was a nice, sweet girl, but she definitely made me feel my age. I didn’t feel like I was dressed up in my 6 inch heels, mini skirt and a fitted shirt, anymore. Instead, I felt like I was responsible for taking care of this girl; I felt like I was in my pajamas, pacing and waiting for my little girl to come home.  At one point she took my hand, and she felt so frail and tiny. Almost breakable. My sister, on the other hand, was sharing drinks with some new friends that she had met at one of the new bars that opened up the night before and therefore was completely oblivious to what was unfolding.

Still, it remained that I was the designated driver and I was ready to haul ass out of there. Fortunately, they followed me. Sort of. The one girl informed me that she was getting picked up by a friend, showed me the text, and assured me she was fine. So it was just my sister, who passed out in the passenger seat of my car, and me driving home in silence. I didn’t feel the need to turn on the radio because I couldn’t shake the feeling that I felt so different; grown up, matured. I mean, I was no longer a 21 year old. 

Hanging out as a designated driver, surrounding myself around drunken men and women in their early twenties, really opened up my eyes to what’s important to me. I love the gym, lifting weights, and building a physique; that’s my challenge. At 21? My challenge was exactly what the girl I kept a watchful eye on all night long was doing. Nothing. Getting drunk and kissing random guys. Waking up the next morning, feeling remorse, regret, and loneliness. Going to the gym may not be glamorous and may not require 6 inch heels with a short mini skirt, but it’s a new phase in my life. Not to mention, it doesn’t make me have regret, or flood that powerless feeling throughout my veins.

I only wish that all of the things I know now, I knew when I was 21. And I only wish that the girl who drank so much that she could barely walk; the girl with the fragile hands; the girl who seemed so breakable in that particular moment; the girl who went looking for any kind of attention, approval, or validation, could know what I know now at 35. 

Oh by the way, I would never, ever, trade in my six inch heels permanently. They stay right next to my training shoes. I don’t give a shit how old I am. I’ll always be old (or young) enough to wear them. Ha.

 

One Legally Binding Contract You Should Avoid

I struggle with this too, but I try my hardest to live by this rule: Be realistic with your goals. 

The number one thing I see on social media websites and in magazines is the image to look like a fitness model or a Victoria’s Secret model. I’m not saying that it can’t be done, I’m just saying that in order to look like a fitness model, you have to be prepared to requires a lot of dedication and commitment. If you want to look like a fitness model for a day; fine, but long term? You’re going to have to be willing to completely transform your kitchen and lifestyle, which begins and continues with eliminating any trace of a potential chemical shit storm waiting to happen. I know you can do it, just don’t sign any legally binding contracts unless you want to get sued.

 And none of us are that perfect all of the time. Our bodies are strong, we are strong, but sometimes shit happens. Even if we’ve make the ultimate sacrifice to give up cookies and pizza forever; sometimes our bodies will physically fight us tooth and nail.

 I woke up this morning, feeling more bloated than usual, drank a full glass of ice cold water, sat down at the computer with my oats with fruit and egg whites. As I was about to shove a spoonful of oatmeal into my mouth, my eyes focused in on this article. I couldn’t help but feel guilty for the extra spoonful of oats I put in my bowl or the one extra strawberry I tossed in just because. 

And while I doubt anyone is going to sue me anytime soon, (in fact, I’m sure of it) or no one is going to sever my head if I happen to gain a few pounds, for “not walking the walk, or talking the talk”,  I certainly can empathize with the Biggest Loser contestant who is being sued for gaining weight.  I made a commitment to this lifestyle, and I feel very passionately about it, and I hold myself accountable for making sure that I am constantly, “walking the walk” or talking the talk” but I also remember that [insert dramatic pause here] I am only human. Yep. There you have it. I am human. And so is this woman.

***Gasp***

 I seriously think that they should be more concerned with the fact that she’s human. Oh and the fact that chances are; if you’ve struggled with your weight in the past, no binding contract is going to put an end to that struggle.

 Physically or emotionally

 Especially, if you’re human. Living this lifestyle isn’t exactly what I call as being “socially accepted”. No, what is widely accepted, with an emphasis on socially, is binge drinking and pummeling food, food and more food into our bodies with ingredients that I don’t even think the manufacturers can pronounce.    

 It’s not like it’s a secret. It’s a known fact that people aren’t consciously counting calories or paying attention to how the food that they are eating affects their body. And honestly, from where I sit, and I’ve mentioned this in previous blog posts, counting calories can be a full time fucking job. It can kind of seem characteristic of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. And I’m no fucking doctor, but I know what it feels like to be obsessive. Trust me. In fact, I own my OCD proudly, it kicks my ass at the gym and it keeps me on track with my diet-but- it’s- not- really- a- diet-, it’s- a- lifestyle. So while I agree that she had a duty to maintain the image that gave her that opportunity in the first place, I also understand that she is human. And unless you’re a wizard, you may gain a few pounds here or there. What is important, however, is whether or not she has the will to fight to get back on track. In my nonprofessional opinion, I think she illustrates the struggle of weight loss, not a lack of self control. Besides, don’t most people who struggle with their weight face a lack of control in their life already? I don’t believe people intentionally sabotage themselves to die young or be obese. No there’s an emotional struggle that is attached to their weight; it’s not just physical.

It is easy to lose track of what you’re putting in your mouth in times of stress, or just life in general. Believe me, I don’t wake up everyday weighing the same either. Maybe I had more sodium than usual, or drank too much water the day before. The body is full of surprises and no one person can get it down to an exact science. During competition prep, or when I did that photo shoot, I had to manipulate my carbohydrates and water intake. Newsflash: Each time a figure competitor competes, they are always trying something new, a little tweak here or there, and their body may be harder and tighter than the last show. Yes, I know people who have shows back to back (one week apart) and they don’t do the same thing that led them to the first show. Again, this is all based on other’s experience, personal experience and lots and lots of research. (That’s my disclaimer right there.)

 And to ramble on some more about it, all I know is that everyone has a story. It’s not as black or white as everyone paints it out to be. Every ‘body’ is different; when you put stress on your body daily, over time you’re body is going to react to it eventually. I don’t know what kind of diet or workout regimen this woman was on, but maybe the stress finally caught up to her and her body responded by putting on some weight. Maybe no matter what she did to counteract the weight gain, she didn’t know how to fix it. Certainly some people can relate. Have you ever decided you needed to lose weight? And in doing so, you put your body under extreme stress, whether it is through a sudden diet change or you just jumped right into a high intensity bout of exercise 5 days a week? Not to mention, we there are their twisted little things called hormones that make our body go tick and tock. Yea, they have an affect on us daily too. Hormones are responsible for a lot of shit that happens in your body. Some make our muscles grow; lose weight, and some make us cry and crave chocolate and pizza. And…sometimes when they’re fucked with; they can put a screeching halt on any kind of progress that you might have made.

 Really, the only contract that I’m going to commit to is the one that reads, “you are taking on the role as a representative to our brand. In signing this contract, you are agreeing to be real, vulnerable, and be willing to make mistakes.You also are agreeing to never mislead the public in any way because by doing so will only tarnish our brand and in doing so, will lead to the promotion of a negative representation, one that we do not want to be a part of. (Feel free to insert legal terminology as you see fit). Imagine, if the scale were tipped the other way, and she got too skinny????

Wow. To be completely honest, I compare myself to others. I mean, who doesn’t? Don’t say you don’t, I don’t know you personally, but I know you do it. Let’s get real, why else do we have a social networking site that has pictures only? Oh and recently videos too. I’m talking about Instagram, but other social networking sites allow it too. And the obvious, why else would this woman be getting sued for not maintaining an image she had at the time she agreed to represent this company?

I scroll through newsfeeds of fitness accounts that I have clicked the like or follow button and I also flip through fitness magazines with envy. I don’t read the articles, I don’t look at the words, I just look at the images that show defined abs, hard earned muscle, and beautifully rounded shoulders and legs that can put any high heeled shoe to shame. It’s my motivation. But sometimes, truthfully, it can be an unhealthy kind of motivation. Sometimes, my body goes to war with my mind. So I have to force myself to log off whatever social media website I’m looking at, close the pages of the magazine and go to the gym. But I go in swinging, busting ass, and challenging my body every single day, and then I go home eat several small meals throughout the day, nothing special, just unprocessed foods, choose only natural sugars as opposed to foods with added sugars, and even then, I keep that kind of sugar to a minimum, I don’t eat an entire jar of peanut butter, even though I’d like to at times, and I drink a lot of water all day long. But I still don’t have a chiseled six pack, although, I don’t really want one, I get frustrated that no matter what I do, I can’t seem to have my stomach look like a six pack. Oh, I have definition in my abs, but you can barely see them if I’m not standing in certain light, or after eating and drinking water all day.

But I still do it because after three years of being on this fitness journey, I feel like I’ve joined a fitness revolution.  I love that I can relate to the desire to eat copious amounts of nut butters straight out of the jar, the fact that I, too, saturate my Iphone with endless shots of myself in the mirror; also known as “selfies”  and play with filters to see what brings the lines out from my muscles the most. I even get excited when I don’t need a filter at all because I can actually see the lines without a fancy filter, and, I, like many others on Instagram, tag the photo with the hashtag, #nofilter. I am also guilty of carrying chicken around in my purse, owning a ton of Tupperware, which, I might add, honestly frustrates me because I suck at organizing Tupperware. Seriously, I can never find the matching lid. But, I feel like over the past 3 years, while I have lived and breathed the fitness lifestyle, I don’t ever feel that it’s ever enough. I still struggle to find the right balance and I suffer the most when my hormones come to play. I am hard on myself. I’ve always been. Everyday is something different. Not just with my appearance though, with a lot of things. I may take a hundred pictures, but it’s only because I’m searching for the one with the “right lighting” the “perfect lines” and then I tell myself to eat cleaner and train harder. And I do. But then I get mad at myself. I think it’s me. I go back to those images on the social media sites and wonder why I can’t have their abs, or legs or shoulder muscles. I do that and then I usually come to my senses (until the next time) and realize that I have to learn to work with the set of tools God and my entire gene pool gave me. Truth hurts.

 

What isn’t drilled into our minds is that you can’t want to be somebody else; you have to want to be you. All of the time. And to do that, you have to do what feels right for you. It’s hard, I know, but it certainly isn’t impossible. I know that too. Like I said, I’m guilty of being too hard on myself too. You just have to be prepared to fight, accept that you aren’t perfect, and that there may even be some setbacks. You can’t control life, but you sure could make the best of it. And that goes for your body too. You can certainly make the most of what you’ve been given, and try not to forget that you, I mean, we, are still human. Just look at the woman from the Biggest Loser, Season 2, who is facing a lawsuit.  

Are you Struggling to Eat Healthy?

Sticking to a healthy diet doesn’t mean that you have to skip social hours.  It doesn’t mean lock your goodies up, lock yourself into solitary confinement and throw away the key. You don’t always have to have maximum security guarding you from the daily temptations that you may encounter.  Admittedly, it will take some time to adjust and adapt, but once you start eliminating processed foods, and incorporating more healthy, clean food into your meals, it will be like jumping out of an airplane. You’re afraid at first, but your parachute will open; it always opens.

Okay, so I’ve never actually jumped out of an airplane before, but making the leap to eat healthy, can feel like you’re taking a huge gamble with your life in general. What if I fail? What if I can’t do it? What if I don’t lose any weight? I’ve already tried everything…”  Well, you’ve never tried to just,

Have faith. Even if you give it one solid day, you did it. You took the risk.  

Now imagine if you could give it one more day…

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 Maybe it sounds silly to compare it to jumping out of an airplane; having faith that the parachute on your back will open up, spreading its wings for you to soar through the air, breathing the fresh air into your lungs, getting the adrenaline pumping…  

Don’t you want to just feel that freedom?

 Seriously though, you don’t have to give up your entire life to achieve and maintain your fitness goals. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, it will take time to figure out a balance; strength isn’t build overnight. If you keep going; never forgetting the reason why you started in the first place, you will find a way for it to fit into your lifestyle, and it will eventually come to you very naturally.

 I’ll be honest; I love food. Love. Food. Sometimes, I grow tired of thinking about food. Sometimes, I wonder why in the hell I am living this way.  Eating this way. This way. This way. Like it’s a cult. Then I look at photos from the old me, the one who drank every night, ate whatever I wanted to, whenever I wanted to, and was never once bothered by the size of my jeans; I mean,  I was never “obese” what did it matter? But then I look at pictures now. I look at my arms and compare them to my soft, shapeless arms from years ago.  I do. I look at the cellulite on the back of my legs, and I am reminded of the work I didn’t do to get the back of my legs to become something that I would NOT hesitate to cover up.  Then.  

I still have cellulite on the back of my legs. I do. And stretch marks too. But you know what? I don’t care. I have muscle. My legs are tight and hard.  And that makes me not care. That makes me feel happy. That makes me never want to stop. I feel strong. 

 Even things like going out to eat on ‘date night’ (or with your friends) doesn’t have to end in giving into more tempting treats like fried foods, tasty desserts etc.

Let me share with you:  

Tonight was declared, ‘date night’; it was long overdue. I had already scanned the menu online for a restaurant that we could eat at without having the highpoint of our evening be one of us hovering over a public toilet, our stomach in dire straits.

 Well, no really, I knew that whatever I ate, it was going to involve a high sodium meal, but I really was just looking forward to just relaxing and not having to think too much about what I was going to eat once I got to the restaurant.  

 As far as any other choices for ‘date night’, it’s been extremely rainy weather here, so there’s not a heck of a lot of choices to do. I am so not a fan of the movie theater fan and neither is my husband. Besides, I have been busting my ass at the gym; I wanted to go out to eat. Without the kids.  But let’s not forget that what kind of food that you put in your mouth has a tremendous impact on what your body is going to look like.  So dinner was still going to be within reason. I wasn’t going out to splurge. Plain and simple, if you’re going to bust your ass in the gym or you have the desire to be fit, don’t think that you are now entitled to copious amounts of food; you want to be fit and sport a set of sexy abs; your going to have to watch what you eat. End of story.  Enjoy your food, but just don’t be that person who complains that they don’t have time to go to exercise, but when they do finally find the time to go, they do so without the intent to ever change what’s on the daily menu. You work hard all week, if you find even 15 minutes to workout, don’t “waste” it by cramming processed food and “junk” into your mouth. No. Just. No.

 I guess I have date night regularly. I mean, if you include quality gym time. And by quality time, I mean, Me. Him. Two opposite sides of the gym. Lifting weights. Not speaking to each other. Yea, so it’s extremely rare that I walk out of the house with something on other than gym attire, yoga pants, tank top, or a sweatshirt.  So, I was actually looking forward to getting dressed up to enjoy a nice hour or two alone with my husband.

 Wow. Just wow. I still came out wearing a semblance of gym/yoga pants, except the material of these pants were much more stretchy and had a much different feel.  Standing there in my heels, I just felt incredibly uncomfortable; awkward like I just put on a magician’s hat and was carrying a wand. Weird.  I own all of these 5-6 inch heels, yet I’m standing there, feeling completely out of place.  And I hadn’t even left the house yet.

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 I was dressed, makeup applied, hair was dry.  I was getting extremely hungry, and since no one really likes me when that happens, I only had enough time to blow-dry my hair.  Not to mention, I was also amped up on medium sized black coffee from Dunkin Donuts that I had an hour and a half earlier.  It was time to go. 

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We decided on Outback Steakhouse; or more like, I decided on Outback.  We haven’t been there in 4 years, so I was kind of excited about it. I had a delicious 6 oz Victoria Cut Filet, sweet potato with honey butter and brown sugar, (I was living a little), sauteed’ mushrooms, and asparagus.  The service was a bit slow so I didn’t get a refill on my water, which I greatly needed because those damn mushrooms were SALTY. Image

 ***I can never stress enough how important it is to drink a lot of WATER throughout the day!!! Especially if you throw a high sodium meal in the mix, drinking water will actually help prevent you from retaining that extra sodium***

 While sitting at the table, I took my shoes off and sat cross-legged (I swear, I got this from my father because he used to always sit like this at the table), and when the food came, the bracelets were just in my way, so I removed them and put them in my purse.  By now, you’re probably thinking that I should have just worn my workout clothes.  I know I was; I may have even mentioned it to my husband a few times.

I just couldn’t wait to get back into my workout clothes. Full belly and all. 

Remember, if go out to eat, you can always look over the menu online before you go.

Drink a glass of water before your meal so you aren’t tempted to eat every single thing in sight. (Especially if your friends are ordering the bulk of the fried, greasy foods.)

If you happen to guilt yourself into having “just one” treat, don’t try to rationalize by allowing yourself to just give up altogether. One small bite of a hot fudge brownie sundae is NOT the same as eating the whole entire thing. 

Do allow yourself a “treat meal” every once in awhile. Hey, I said, “Every Once in Awhile”. 

If you veer off your plan, and are heading towards the exit sign away from your goal; don’t get discouraged. Always remember that there are just as many enter signs as there are exits. 

 

It’s Not a Diet; It’s a Lifestyle.

Don’t expect approval. Shit, if you’re going to change your body, you better learn to dig deep down inside and find the shovel with the longest handle to dig all of the strength and courage that you have. And believe me. We all are capable.

Winter is long gone, and Summer is here.

Still. I don’t pay attention to “seasons”.

I’m either training to build muscle, lose fat, or manipulating my way to build muscle while minimizing fat gains, and the list goes on…Anyway, the point is that it can leave you feeling pretty isolated from the rest of the world. It’s no doubt one of the hardest transitions to make. At first, some people will either distance themselves from you or gravitate towards you;  it’s a toss up; heads or tails. There will be times where you may find that you are excusing yourself from, say, a party to, “use the bathroom”. Translation: you’re about to shove food into your mouth nearby, out of sight, just so you can get in Meal whatever number you’re on as fast as you can.

If you don’t excuse yourself, prepare yourself for questions, silent judgments, potential concerns that are expressed about your health, or maybe even an awkward moment or two when other people think that you are judging them on their eating habits. Trust me, I’m not. I just want to eat my food in my little Tupperware container please.

 So yea, I’ve been there. Some people ask a question about what you’re eating and why, then move on. Then there are others will ask many more questions, and end up with a look of confusion; like they don’t know what to make of it. Eh. I don’t care now,  I used to feel awkward. I mean, it’s not a secret, I’m not doing anything wrong, and I’m definitely not starving myself. At first, I used to obsess over it, I would get anxiety from it, I mean, I had to eat!!! 2 hours would go by, and I’d watch the clock, 3 hours, I had to eat! 4 hours…OMG I didn’t care what I was doing; who I was with, I HAD TO EAT!!

Now, I can’t say that I don’t obsess over it, but I can also say that I don’t obsess over it. I guess because I’ve made it who I am….

 Until today…

 Plain and simple, the people who know me; are accustomed to me and my endless Tupperware containers filled with food, and know that they can expect that I can take  them out at any given moment. When it’s time to eat, I’m gonna eat.  I have muscle to grow, fat to burn. Plain. And. Simple. It’s a lot of work, time and effort. I love it, and as I mentioned, it’s become my life; who I am.

However, enter new challenge: Introduced to new people, and it still doesn’t get any easier to explain how I eat…or why.  Plus, today would be the second time I was caught “off guard”.  That rarely ever happened. I usually have something to eat in my car, purse, somewhere. But not last week. Or today.

 Last week was the first time I was “unprepared”, “caught off guard”.  My son was asked to go over to his friend’s house, and while hey asked if I wanted them to pick him up, I figured since I was just doing laundry that I could just as easily bring him over to their house and drop him off. Yes. Drop him off.  I didn’t pack any food because I figured, “I was just going to run out and come right back” (It’s important to note that I ate over 2 hours ago at that point.), so I really didn’t see the point in bringing anything to eat. I ran out of protein bars, didn’t have anything cooked or ready to go at that moment, but like I said, I didn’t think any of that was necessary.

 And then I went to drop him off…

 Like any good host, they asked me to come in. Ummm…A few minutes turned into a couple hours. Admittedly, I started to think about  how I was “missing a meal” and in my mind, flashes of my muscles crying out, “Feed us! Feed us!” kept playing over and over.

 Like, seriously.  

 I did enjoy myself, however. It felt good meeting and talking to new people; people who seemed pretty upbeat and positive; were super nice and easy to talk to. But still. I couldn’t stop thinking about eating.  

 Now fast forward to today….

 My son’s friend came over with his dad to swim. I met them down at the pool (I live in an apartment complex). Again, I just ate, so I thought, “how long could I be down at the pool for ?” Well, soon 3 hours came and went like nothing. Time was flying right by, and we just sat there talking about anything ranging from politics to what our kid’s eating habits were.  And suddenly, that got me to think about food. My food.

 Side note: When you start a fitness journey, it’s very likely that you will start to refer to your meals as, “my food” or “Meal #”; you no longer think of it in terms of yummy, delicious, tasty, “food” but in terms of, “what will this do for my body”.  You also begin to pair foods that you never would have thought to pair together before.  Like. Ever. You begin to have a love affair with nut butters. That’s just the beginning…but that’s for another time.

 Back to the pool situation. So, there I was, wondering if it would be rude to excuse myself so that I could run up to my apartment to grab “my food”. Yea. Why didn’t I bring it with me? I know. After 3 years, you’d think I had this all figured out by now.

And look, I know that my muscles aren’t really going to eat themselves, I’m not going to “gain fat” if I don’t cram something into my mouth at exactly 3 hours from the last time I ate. But know this, if you’re training for something specific, it’s crucial to space your meals out. Why? Without getting too deep into it, the simplest reason is that it’s a lot easier to eat a large amount of calories in several meals over the course of a day rather than to cram large amounts of food to meet my caloric needs in 2 or 3 meals.

 Now that you have figured out that I am neurotic and suffer a love affair with “my food” and building muscle, and all things revolving around body transformation, don’t judge me. I have a fricken goal people.  And that’s to be in the best damn shape of my life. When I’m old, I envision myself with semi-saggy skin, yet glowing, taking selfies of myself in the mirror of my super ripped abs.Okay, so I do really just want to stay healthy, shape my body into nothing but lean, pure, muscle. It’s my daily challenge. To myself.

Meanwhile…back to the pool….what did I do? Well…my sister, who lives in the same apartment complex, came down to sit with her kids, and she played host for 10 minutes while I excused myself to go eat. And the best part of the day? When the boys wanted to continue hanging out, we moved the conversation down to their house, and I found out that my son’s, friend’s, mother and I have a lot in common. There, on the table, she had made her own, “dip” using nonfat greek yogurt with something else (that unfortunately I cannot remember), for the carrots and celery sticks that had put out as part of their dinner.  Plus,  I also found out that she suffers from a lot of the allergies that I do and makes her own natural laundry soap, shampoo and conditioner! Her husband (aka, referred to, by me earlier as my son’s dad) even offered me nonfat greek yogurt with raspberries! Oh the things that make me happy!

 Also, we might even meet them up for camping next weekend. How exciting!

 I am so glad that I did take the time to get to know them better. It’s good to invite positive people in your life. Duh. 

Remember, when you make the decision to transform your body, it’ll be difficult at first, and will affect you not just mentally, physically, emotionally; but also socially. It’s important to have a strong support system in place, and if you don’t remain strong; you’re worth it. If you stick with it, you’ll eventually meet new people, appreciate new experiences, and really discover how strong you are. As my mother always says to me, “Megan, it’ll all work out.”