Thursday, May 28, 2015

What I Think...

What I think is that life is easy.

And hard.

Throughout the day I might feel both happy and sad, angry and ecstatic, overwhelmed and carefree. Sometimes all at once.

Life is not just one thing- easy or hard. And as a person I am not limited to just one emotion. Everything isn’t so polar. There is no black and white- only shades of gray. Cliché, I know. But it’s true.

Why do I say this? Well, lately I have been thinking a lot about things I see on social media. It happens. Sometimes (most times) social media is great for me. It is a source of inspiration and encouragement. It is usually a very positive experience. But there are also times where social media sends my mind and emotions into a frenzy. Good, bad or indifferent sometimes it is just a bit much.

Being someone that is a “successful weight loser” it’s no surprise that many of the groups I am in on FB, blogs I read, twitterers I follow are also weight loss/maintenance themed. These people make up a huge chunk of my tribe. And I love it.

And I also, at times, don’t love it.

You see, I am that person (you know, that weird hippie girl) that firmly believes that our circumstances, or at least or reactions to our circumstances, are controlled by are perceptions of the situation. If you think something is hard/challenging/difficult then it will be hard/challenging/difficult. If you think you can’t do something, you probably won’t. If you think you can’t succeed, it will be much easier to fail. If you think you can’t be or don’t deserve to be happy, then guess what? It will feel like happiness is eluding you.

On the flip side- I believe the opposite to be true too. If you think you can succeed, you most likely will (or at least change in a positive manner for trying). If you think something will be helpful/beneficial/worthwhile it will feel that way too. And of course, if you feel worthy of happiness you will be happy.

I am not saying that it is as easy as just thinking it and it being so, but kind of. To me, mentally believing something is the first and most important step.

So when I hear about how hard weight maintenance is or how hard training for a marathon is or how impossible passing pre-lims will be and those little nuggets burrow into my brain I have to fight my hardest not to believe it to be true. Or at least not let other people’s feelings change my perception of my own circumstances.

And how do I stop this from happening? Well lately I have found a trick that is helping me to correct this is comparison. I know, I know- it’s not healthy to compare ourselves to others. That isn’t exactly what I mean. Instead of comparing Dacia to Jane, one person to another (completely different and unique) person. I compare my situation to another situation that in turn helps me shift my perception.

Example- weight loss maintenance is hard. I hear it every day. Some days I am the one saying it. And I have written before about why, in comparison to weight loss or obesity it feels (or at least should feel) easier. But here is the thing. Weight maintenance is whatever I make it to be. And I want it to feel easy and normal and just the way it should be so I think about how it can be and is easy and normal because I am lucky. I am lucky because I have the ability mentally, physically and financially to make the choices I want, that support the lifestyle I want to live. There are so many others that don’t have that choice. There are many others that suffer every day due to illness, so many living in pain, in poverty, so many that are experiencing REALLY TRULY HARD LIVES. I am not one of them.  Dacia remember this- your life is not hard. You’ve got it good. Celebrate that!

I am not saying that I should deny that life at times is a struggle or that making the best choice for me isn’t always the easiest choice. I am not saying that at all. I am human, not a robot. I am just saying that I need to remind myself in those moments that I am lucky. I have health and freedom to make choices. And maybe I am not always mentally strong enough to put a positive spin on every situation and come out of every day feeling like life is easy. But I should remember what hard is (and yes, I have experienced a lot of truly hard and terrible things in my life) and know that the moment I am in now is easier in comparison.

I mean seriously, if I can survive all of the death and sickness and sadness in my life so far and come out on top then I definitely know I can survive (and thrive) in weight maintenance, marathon training and pre-lims. Right?

Love and hugs,



“This life is what you make it. No matter what, you're going to mess up sometimes, it's a universal truth. But the good part is you get to decide how you're going to mess it up. Girls will be your friends - they'll act like it anyway. But just remember, some come, some go. The ones that stay with you through everything - they're your true best friends. Don't let go of them. Also remember, sisters make the best friends in the world. As for lovers, well, they'll come and go too. And baby, I hate to say it, most of them - actually pretty much all of them are going to break your heart, but you can't give up because if you give up, you'll never find your soulmate. You'll never find that half who makes you whole and that goes for everything. Just because you fail once, doesn't mean you're gonna fail at everything. Keep trying, hold on, and always, always, always believe in yourself, because if you don't, then who will, sweetie? So keep your head high, keep your chin up, and most importantly, keep smiling, because life's a beautiful thing and there's so much to smile about." ~Marilyn Monroe

*Edited to include the entire MM quote

Monday, May 18, 2015

Please Don't Live in Fear

Please don’t be ashamed of yourself because of how you look. Don’t let your weight or other perceived imperfections keep you from living the life you want. Don’t be embarrassed. Embrace the person you are, right now, and love them. Show yourself some respect, have some dignity. Don’t live in fear.

Why do I say all this?

Let me tell you a story.

Growing up I was never skinny but I really was never too heavy either. I was average, or at least that’s how I perceived myself.

Growing up I was also very lucky to have the most amazing group of friends. Thick as thieves, we shared the best and the worst of our lives together.

I moved away from my hometown area in 2000 and then moved even further away in 2002. It was sometime around 2003 that I really started gaining weight. I would say between 2003 and 2008, the year I moved back to the area I grew up in, I had easily put on at least 100 pounds and was gaining by the day.

Between 2003 and 2008 I was only coming home maybe once or twice a year. I would visit with some friends but not many, usually opting to see my family mainly during those times. By 2008, however, Facebook was now open to everyone and people I knew from my high school crew were not only aware that I was moving home, they were excited. I was excited too. I was ready to be home, see my friends again, excited to be back with those that knew me best. Hell, my high school best friend that I had known since I was 8 years old not only lived in Philly at the time, she lived like half a dozen blocks away. It was going to be awesome.

But do you know what happened when I moved back? I hid. I was so embarrassed and ashamed of what I had become I couldn’t face my old friends. Even though these were people that had gone through hell with me and I knew they wouldn’t care, I cared. I couldn’t do it. Out of the dozens of people still living back home when I moved back I only reconnected with two of my friends. And even then my time with them was limited. I made new friends. Friends that didn’t know the ‘old Dacia’, friends I felt wouldn’t judge me for my (perceived) failure.

Two years later I was off again, this time to Texas. Away from the city I loved. Completely missing out on reconnecting with people I loved. Intentionally.

I am not sure I ever admitted it, or at least not to many if I had, that I was so ashamed of the person I had become.  So much so that I missed out on years of time I could have spent with some amazing people. It was so silly. I look back on those times now and wonder what the heck was wrong with me? How could I just hide away like that?

It has been a long time since I lived in Philadelphia. When I travel home now I still mainly focus on time with family but now I also try to reconnect with anyone willing to spend some time with me. There is never enough time though. And there are people living back home that I haven’t seen in at least a decade if not more.

And that makes me sad. Utterly and completely sad. 

Especially when you find out that one of your close friends from high school is dying.

Especially when you find out that he died.

I missed out on a lot of things in my life because of my weight. I made a lot of bad/stupid decisions because of my weight, too. Honestly, I could write a book just on this subject. Now that I am at peace with the person that I am (I may have lost weight but I know I am far from perfect, and that is ok)  I try to not miss out on these chances and opportunities when they arise. But sometimes, it’s not enough.

I can’t go back to those years I hid from you Erik, those years I felt ashamed. I cannot tell you now how sad I am that I won’t get to see you again. We won’t get to drink a beer together or fight like brother and sister again. I can’t change how I wrote my history. And today, knowing that you are gone, that is a tough pill to swallow.

I am sorry for the years that passed between us. I am sorry I took for granted (with any of you) that our time together is limited and that the end point is unknown.

I can only move forward trying to be a better person, friend, daughter, (soon to be) wife, and take with me the many memories we have all shared. I will remember you fondly.

RIP Erik, my favorite Viking. 

I can't believe you still had this after all these years....

Love and hugs,

Friday, May 15, 2015

This Is Not My Punishment

Life. The decisions we make daily. These choices are not our punishment, these are our gift.

These past few weeks have left me in this crazy state of introspection meets pure bliss meets crazy lows meets exhilaration meets sadness meets overwhelming happiness.

Basically I have all the feels lately.

About a month ago I did something I wasn’t sure I would be able to do but tried anyway…I ran two half marathons in two days. The second being the most challenging (because of the elevation and the weather and of course, the soreness from the day before) half marathon I ever ran. When I finished I thought my heart might burst. I was beyond happy, beyond proud of what I had completed.

Then two weeks ago I got to walk across the stage during commencement for my formal hooding and to collect my empty (soon to be filled though) diploma cover for my Education Specialist degree. My parents and E were there cheering me on. So were some of my co-workers and friends as well. It was a pretty amazing feeling. I didn’t walk when I earned my MBA (I had to move to start a new job the day before the ceremony) and my mother was ill during my undergraduate ceremony so it was really nice having both my parents there to celebrate. And of course, I cannot wait to do it again in three years (hopefully) when I complete my doctorate.

Last weekend I spent 36 hours running and relaying the Ragnar Cape Cod with 11 other weight losers/maintainers. For the most part, this was the first time our group was meeting in person. Then we had the pleasure of running 192 miles, relay-style, from Hull, MA to Provincetown, MA. A Ragnar Relay had been on my bucket list since I had first learned what it was a few years ago so I was beyond excited to not only finish one but to finish one with 11 of the most amazing people I have met on this journey. These memories, jokes, hugs and stories will stay with me for life. These people are my Ragnar family now. Time and distance can never change that.

So, as you can see these past few weeks were quite the rollercoaster of emotions. Whenever I reach a new high I tend to be hit almost immediately with a new low. Usually it’s “I can’t believe it’s all over” or in terms of my doctorate it’s more like “holy shit, I am not ready for this”.

But through these recent experiences I have really thought about my life. Life as a weight loss maintainer. I often write about being happy in the decisions I make and how that allows me to sustain this lifestyle. And it’s true. But another thing I have been thinking a lot about lately is the fact that I have a choice at all. Right now, if you are reading this post then chances are your life is filled with choices. Most of which are probably taken for granted. I know most of mine are.

You see, my lifestyle today is completely different from what it was four or five years ago. Like 180 degrees different. I eat differently, am active in different ways (active vs sedentary really) and I even dream differently. And I get to do all of this because I have the freedom and the means (for the most part) to make these choices. I choose to eat a certain way and I can. I choose to register for races and sign up for boot camps because I can. And I choose to dream big because I am no longer afraid of my limitations. I dream big because I can.

These choices I make in the moment, daily, weekly, yearly these are gifts. They are not my punishment.

I choose health and that is a gift. I choose activity and that is a gift. I choose to believe that the sky is the limit and that is the biggest gift of all.

I am not saying that these decisions always come easily or naturally and there is always a battle going on between head and heart, or really between old habits and new habits. I am not ‘perfect’ nor am I without flaws. My journey has never been, nor will it ever be, a straight line. But I can’t beat myself up for living the best way I can each day. I can only be me. And I can only make myself happy. Or in turn it’s only me that can make myself miserable. I have the power to decide my fate and my feelings. And for me that power lies in my perspective- is it a gift or is it a punishment?

It is a gift.


Love and hugs,