Just Breathe

The quote of the day during spin class at the gym this morning was, “Breathe in confidence..Breathe out doubt.” After the instructor shared it, I began breathing in and out, deeply, as I repeated those words over and over with each stroke of the pedals, yearning to pull myself back to that place.

Oh, how I love being in a place of confidence, filled with joy and assurance going throughout my day, overflowing to a place of being able to encourage and help others… but that has not been the place I have been in, and stayed in, for such a long time. It’s been a long, tough year–a long weight loss journey, along with many ups and downs in health dilemmas with my parents, the death of a close friend, along with a huge job transition time for my husband. With so many prayers that may have seemed to go unanswered so far, sometimes I’ve actually had to stop and remind myself to… just breathe.

I’m so tired of letting the waves of doubt come in. As they hit me over and over again, I find myself drowning in fear….and I hate being in a place of fear. So as the spin instructor reminded me to “breathe in confidence….and breathe out doubt” this morning, I had to go right back to that place and pray, once again, for God to show me how.

So, if I have been at that confident, joy filled place before, how did I get there? How do I get back there? How do I breathe that in? The definition of confidence is, “the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust.” So, where do I place my firm trust? Whether it is success in the battle with weight loss, dealing with the health issues or even the death of others, or battling doubt and fear, my confidence has come from holding onto, and trusting God’s promises. Therefore, when my confidence is gone and doubt and fear is overtaking me, I have to grab onto those promises once again and get back to a place of complete trust.

A close friend once shared, “make sure during those great mountain top times in your life, the times when everything is going great…that you are making time to read God’s word and take in His wisdom and promises, because when the valleys come (and they will come, because you can’t have mountains without valleys), you will have what you need to get through.” I’m so thankful that she shared this years ago, because I have placed, and continue to place, those promises in my heart and mind, so that I can breathe them in once again….”Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7) “I can do All things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13),  “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised. (Hebrews 10;35-36) ” “He works All things together for good, for those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28).   He hears, He sees, He counts every tear that falls down your cheeks (Psalm 56:8), He answers, He loves us, He has amazing plans for our lives. This is what I have to breathe in and remember.

When I feel myself drowning, I also shout out an SOS to friends and family who can help. Don’t stay isolated. Reach out and ask for help, shout for help. Staying alone is the worse thing you can do. Others will give you a new perspective, they will do what they can to help, offer support, give you a shoulder to cry on, remind you of the promises you have forgotten, or have not yet heard..and many times God will use someone who has been through the same thing to encourage you and give you hope through their story. Breathing in their testimony with give you hope and renew your faith.

So I breathe in—remembering that He has provided everything I have needed up until this very day, and trust that he will do so, again, tomorrow and the next day….I look back at all of the amazing “God-incidences” (not coincidences) which have happened in my life, and trust that He is working on all of the things I am worried about. I breathe out— letting go of the doubt. Asking him to calm those waves of doubt overtaking me—trading fear for faith. Choosing to trust. Trust….even the word itself, begins and ends with the cross t rus t….”Remember, Wendy, He is ALL that He says He is, and can do ALL that He says He can do. Wipe your tears, let the anxiety go– You can be confident once again… from overwhelmed to overjoyed…….Just breathe.”

devotional

 

trustv3

 

T.H.A.N.K.S.G.I.V.I.N.G….

today enjoyG

 

T- Turkey Trot!- I’m starting my morning with friends and family doing the 5 mile town Turkey Trot. Choose an activity, take a walk, let this set a great start to your day physically and mentally.

 

exercise

H- Have a plan! – Take all that you have learned, trust the process and make a plan for your day.

 

plan pic plan

 

A- Ask for help!- Ask for help in your home or where you are going. Ask about the menu, what will be there, and ask to have some things there that will help you. If they are not there, make them and bring them yourself.

 

sos 1PGsos 2JPG

N- Never stand or sit right by all the food- take a small plate and move away from all of the plates of chips, dips, etc. Move away and visit, meet new people, play a game, take a walk with everyone in between dinner and dessert, etc. Create new traditions.

K- Keep in mind that this is just one day…a Holiday, not a holiweek or holimonth- Take the food off of the pedestal, put it on your plate and enjoy every choice you made with your eyes wide open. Ask yourself if it is worth it, and then embrace your decision and truly enjoy. Mindful eating.

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S- Share the leftovers, pack them up and make your spaces powerful once again- Send everyone home with the leftovers. At the end of the holiday, ask yourself if your home is now back to being a “Sanctuary of Safety” or a “Tower of Temptation”.

tower of terror

G- Gratitude is the best attitude!- Be grateful for this day, the people around you, how far you have come. You may not be where you want to be, but you can look back and thank God that you are not where you used to be. Give yourself grace. God says, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14)…right now, as you are. Know that!

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I- Invest time in the relationships- Get to know something you never knew about your friends, family. Go deeper in your relationships. Remember…. food is only the side dish, the main dish is the company we keep.

 

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V- Victories need to be celebrated!- be empowered by every little great choice you make this day. Don’t beat yourself up. One great choice at a time.

choicesJPGface it.

I-Intentional – Be intentional in all of your choices and decisions today. Don’t focus on what you can’t do…focus on what you CAN do!

can do

N-Never forget all the reasons you are on this journey of health and fitness. Remember why you are fighting for this. Don’t keep exchanging what you want most, for what you want in the moment.

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G- Go home grateful for this day, ready to Get back on track at your very next meal!
You can do this! Choose faith instead of fear. Plan the day you want to have and……believe!

one meal awayJPGbelieve

Wishing you a Thanksgiving FILLED with blessings!!!!!! Wendy Trunz xo

journey

 

“Fall” down….or “Fall” into a new lifestyle this season…

Every single year of my life, “Fall” would be my annual starting time for beginning my diet (again), full on! Fall is when the kids go back to school, life gets back into a schedule, and it’s the perfect time to start fresh. Every year I would go into that “all or nothing” mode. I would create a new plan, I would go to extreme measures to exercise as much as I could, and I would choose a strict diet to follow, something that would promise big numbers to lose in a short amount of time. (we have all tried all of them). My plans would work for a few weeks, until I just couldn’t sustain the “all or nothing” mentality, the crazy, unsustainable diet, or the amount of time I thought I could do extreme exercises. This usually happened right around Columbus Day weekend or Halloween. Holidays and parties and gatherings would begin, and I would start to “fall” a bit.

After a few falls, I would start to tell myself, “ok, after Halloween, whatever day it falls on, just start on the next Monday, again”. The extreme things I was trying to do, had me craving what I couldn’t have, or I was just irritated and hungry, wondering how long I could really keep this up… and the crazy foods and tough schedule was never going to become part of a lifestyle that I would keep doing for very long.

Before I knew it, Thanksgiving was around the corner. If I hadn’t blown yet, I certainly blew it for Thanksgiving. After the four day Thanksgiving weekend eating extravaganza… I would be so upset with myself… bloated, stuffed and defeated, I was already telling myself, “ok, this isn’t working for now, and there’s no way I can do this through the holidays, so I’ll REALLY start, full on again after Christmas and New Years. (which really means January 2nd, because January 1st is New Year’s Day, which is usually another day for gathering and eating.) Needless to say, by January 2nd, I was always much heavier than I was when I originally set out to begin in September. I had fallen and failed once again, and was heavier than ever. Sometimes I even missed parties we were invited to, out of embarrassment of how I looked, or because, during yet another year of holidays, I had nothing to wear. Years and years I wondered, “Would I ever be able to break this cycle? Would I ever be able to be victorious in this battle?”…… and I can finally answer….”YES!”

self discoveryJPG

These past two years, one of the greatest pieces of wisdom that I have learned is, “you are just ONE MEAL away from getting back on track”. When I “fall” down or slip, I can choose to get right back up at the next meal. NOT tomorrow….NOT Monday…..NOT the first of the month….NOT after the holidays….NOT January 2nd. I can be right back on track at the next meal. I am just one great choice away from getting back on track. This has changed my life!

one meal away Another great piece of wisdom…”Don’t let your “Holiday”…become a holi-week….or a holi-month….it is just one day. holidayJPG
If you have already found yourself “falling” a bit with your weight loss and fitness at this point, and you are worried about not “enjoying” the holidays with food and friends, feeling like you should just give up until after the holidays..STOP!!! DON’T GIVE UP, DON’T be that person who quits!! You CAN do this!!!

IstepsJPG fall stairs

Think about this…between now and January 2nd there are only 6 days of holidays….Halloween, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. We are not overweight because of 6 days of overeating. If you would like to give yourself a little freedom for a meal or a party on those days, then just enjoy those days as they come, decide which parties or foods that day are “worth it” to you. BUT, you MUST make the best decisions for all the meals and snacks for all of the other days in between.

If you have started great this fall, and you are still motivated on your journey, keep on going. Make one great choice at a time. If you have slipped a bit….don’t fall all the way. You are right back on track at your very next meal. Don’t promise yourself to start again in the “future some time”, and then find yourself choosing to just keep falling hard, eating as much as you can get in before the clock strikes “midnight” the day before you “really start”. We have all been there. The damage we do before that date, up until midnight strikes, causes us to be in such a state of regret once again, with so much more weight to take off.

When you hear people share, who have truly been successful with weight loss, and they have kept it off for a good amount of time, they always say, “I finally realized it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle.” That is what I am striving for this time in my weight loss journey. I’m finding ways to move and do exercises/classes/activities, that fit into my daily life. I am eating great foods that I love that help boost metabolism and cause my body to work at it’s best: Delicious foods, not diet foods—foods that I want to eat the rest of my life, not just for a short time to try to take off the weight. This is how it all becomes your new lifestyle.

Let this fall be the start of your new season of life, making one great choice at a time, leading you to a whole new lifestyle. Find a support group, surround yourself with people who believe in you. Reach out to those who will help and inspire you, people who will help you get back up when you fall. Ask for help. Find the right plan that works for you, one that you can see yourself doing for a lifetime. For me, I have found that Weight Watchers has all of this. It is the only plan that allows me to work in absolutely anything I want to eat, and still lose weight. The more you learn, the more you will make even better and better choices for living a healthy and fit lifestyle. Choose the exercises and activities you love to do, choose the weight loss plan that you can sustain for a lifetime.

And remember… this fall, when you fall, you are only ONE meal away from getting right back on track. (Don’t wait until January 2nd!) YOU CAN DO THIS!!! BELIEVE!!

pride believe

 

 

What I learned in the midst of “Insanity”…

I just walked in, drenched from my very first, unexpected, “Insanity” workout. You see, I walked into the gym this morning, expecting the regular Wednesday circuit class, and the gym decided to change the schedule for the fall, and replace it with an “Insanity” class. “Are you kidding me!!??”

As Eliza began to show us the moves we would be doing, explaining the modifications, I could feel my jaw tighten… doubt and anger were creeping in, and an overwhelming fear came over me. The nonsense going on in my head was already insane….”I can’t do this, why are they changing things, I’m going to hurt myself, I’ve seen this on commercials, and those people are in amazing shape and so strong, and I’m not like them, I’m not going to be able to keep up with everyone, my body can’t do these crazy moves and jumps over and over again, I’m not going to like this at all”….

I’m usually one of the people who smile and laugh and encourage others in a class, and during this one, I couldn’t even speak. I was fighting all the doubts and fears in my head, and then part way through the work out, I found myself praying really hard to just get through it. It took a while, but I found a way to grab onto my favorite verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens Me”. So, in sync with the moves, I just repeated these words in my head over and over again…through football sprints, spiderman planks, jump squats, mountain climbers….

At the end of the class, while we were stretching, tears just rolled down my face along with the sweat pouring off of me. Eliza encouraged us all, saying, “you guys did great! This is really hard. It’s really hard-but really good.” Others were commenting that it was really hard but a really good workout, yet, my head was still spinning, and I was still trying to deal with all of the emotions. I hadn’t cried at the end of a workout in a very long time. I think the anger and worry was being released, but so was the realization that I had just gotten through, and accomplished, “The Insanity Workout”… The one I had seen on tv so many times, while sitting on the couch, wondering if I could ever do it, but talking myself out of ever wanting to try. Well, I JUST DID IT.

While still stuck in my very unusual quietness, Eliza finally asked, “Wendy, you’re really quiet, what did you think?” I tried to put into words a huge thing I realized about myself during that workout. Then I answered her… “I realize that I hate what I fear. I hate the unknown. I found myself so angry and worry of change, fear and worry of…what if?…What if I can’t do it, what if I can’t keep up, what if I hate it? What if I hurt myself?” And then I was angry with myself for being angry, and for having doubt.”

I had to find every ounce of courage, along with praying and saying that verse over and over again, to fight my way through this class. At certain times this morning, there were other moments from this weight loss journey that flashed through my memory, …. other times I had to fight through many “firsts”…..the time I cried on turf at “Unleash the Champion” after accomplishing a 2 minute plank at the end of a long workout,the day I got through my first spinning class, ran my first 5 mile Turkey Trot without stopping…..

The emotion that pours out of you when you accomplish things you once dreamed of, or may never have even dreamed of, is such an overwhelming feeling. And the most important thing it does….it gives you a renewed hope to believe that you can do more…. that you can dream even bigger dreams, and take the steps to accomplish them. Hope changes everything.

The hardest part that I have to begin to realize, is that these moments seem to happen when I am brought completely out of my comfort zone. I am brought to the edge of the unknown, which is a place where I get overwhelmed in fear, anger, despair, worry, disappointment…and I now have a choice. I can stay completely frozen in all of this and choose to retreat and head back out the door, go home and never try….or I can join those around me, and try it together, and trust the ones who are leading…encouraging one another along the way, and then celebrate the accomplishments together…dreaming bigger dreams together.

I had recently been praying and asking God to show me what I need to do to break through this plateau I have been stuck at for a while with the weight loss…I am 15 pounds away from my goal. I’ve been eating the same great foods, staying within my points, working out 5 days a week at the gym, moving on the weekend, and the weight just isn’t budging. It’s funny, but one definition of “insanity” is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result….And although all of the good things I have been doing have worked in losing about 95 pounds, it’s not working anymore. It’s time to change things up a bit. So, maybe this new “insanity” workout this morning was answer to prayer. Although it took me totally off guard this morning, it might just be the answer to my insane plateau.

Nobody wants to stay in a place of insanity, I certainly don’t. So, I looked up the opposite of “insanity” and found the words that I truly wanted to aspire to, to describe my life and myself……balanced, calm, reasonable, rational, intelligent, sensible, well, healthy. Who would have ever thought that an hour of “Insanity” experienced at Power Ten Fitness gym this morning would teach me so much today.

I believe we all have gifts and talents that we were uniquely blessed with, that we are to use to serve and impact the lives of others. One of my greatest joys is passing on the wisdom I have learned in this weight loss journey to others, so that they can come to a place of believing and seeing that they can do this also. I believe we change this world, one heart at a time. I have been praying and asking God to show me where I am suppose to serve and work, as I am looking for my next job/purpose in life. A close friend of mine, who has been praying for me to find my next job sent me this in my email this morning…

YouCan'tBeaWorldChangeUntil

What perfect timing! Praying that I can come to a complete trust in God…in, and especially out of my comfort zones, so that He can use me, and my life to serve and change the world, one person at a time! That would be insanely awesome!!!

Don’t Tell Me What you CAN’T Do….Tell Me What You CAN Do!!!….(What are the anchors that keep you going through tough times?…)

Don't tell me what you Can't do
So, I’m not sure if I have sprained or broken my pinky toe, but the pain has been excruciating at times. It has turned a wonderful shade of dark purple, since I jammed it into a heavy chair Wednesday morning.

bruised toe

I limped to the gym that first morning, knowing it would be a circuit day, and I trusted that the trainer would help me modify at each station, so that I could still work out. I ended up doing a lot of upper body exercises, I was proud of myself for showing up (remembering that just by showing up, you are “lapping everyone who is still sitting on a sofa”) I was also willing to be honest and ask for help at each station. The trainer was so happy to help me and keep challenging me…quitting is no longer an option. Putting on those sneakers was so painful, and so was just walking. It’s amazing how much you need that little toe for!

Thursday morning, the pain was even worse. As I found myself starting to worry, feeling sorry for myself, and so frustrated… starting to worry about not being able to work out, how long would this injury affect me, will this slow down my weight loss, etc….I had to pray and just bring everything I knew to the situation. It’s time to hold onto everything I have learned and press through this. “Ok Wendy, Don’t tell me what you CAN’T do…tell me what you CAN DO! Pray for the strength, ask to find the motivation.”

With that, I remembered a picture I took of TV the other night while watching “Dancing with the Stars”. It was a picture of all of Amy’s prosthetics lined up along the mirror. I remember pausing the television, taking in that scene and just being left in awe. Here is a woman who has lost the bottom half of both of her legs, and she is competing on “Dancing with the Stars”. She is one of the most amazing dancers I have ever seen. As she approaches each day, each new routine, she is not wondering IF she can do it, she is wondering, “which of these legs/feet should I use to just dance my heart out and do my best!”

Amy's feet

I brought up that picture on my phone and kept it fresh in my mind — to choose to move on. Thursday’s work out was spinning. I wasn’t sure if my spin shoes were going to go on my feet, or if I would be able to push on the pedals, but I was going to try, and if it didn’t work out, I was going to ask for help in finding what else I could do to sweat at the gym that morning.

I limped into the gym, explained to the trainer/instructor that I was going to just do my best, remembering that was what Carter told us at “Unleash the Champion”…you just have to bring YOUR absolute best to every workout, don’t look around and compare yourself to anyone else.

bring your best

I set up the bike, winced in pain as I strapped my shoe on and clicked it into the pedals…then I took one stroke at a time. I closed my eyes, prayed for strength to get through and for the pain to lessen….and pushed through an hour class, which was a strength ride including 4 long, steep hills….I got myself to stand up and push, and just went along, holding onto every inspirational thought. I had my “Unleash the Champion” bracelet on which also has the words..”Start. Sweat. Finish”, so I thought of all the people I am still on this journey with, that I met there, along with those in my weekly Weight Watcher’s family, who continue to inspire me every single day…. I had my “Believe” bracelet on, and on my handlebars, I happened to have the towel from the Sports Bra Challenge, which I conquered over a year ago. I was surrounded with incredible “anchors”, reminders to inspire me to keep going.

sports bra towel bracelets
When I need help to press on toward this weight loss finish line, I am inspired by the people who are in this weight loss journey with me. Their stories, words and lessons are in my head and memory…they are with me at every work out. I also hold onto every bit of wisdom and knowledge I have learned along the way.

UTC Turf picture

When the ride was finished, I opened my eyes, and I looked down on the floor and saw the drippings of sweat, and I was proud of every drop. During the cool down, I just thanked God for the ability to get through the workout…for the memories, verses, sayings, stories all brought to mind during the ride that kept me going.

foot and sweat

As Courtney Crozier has said many times in sharing her incredible weight loss journey, “it might take a while to change your body, but it only takes one split second to change your mind.” I woke up in pain, disbelief, discouragement, despair, bombarded with feelings of doubt and anxiety….and choice by choice, one at a time…chose to get to that gym, walk through those doors and continue to fight to get across my finish line.

Courtney with sign.04_n

At the end of that ride, yes, the pain was still there…but so was the sweat on the floor, and I was walking out of those gym doors believing again…feeling empowered, strong and really proud of getting through it. There is no better feeling than walking OUT the doors of a gym after a great workout.

I don’t know how long it will take for my toe to heal, but I will continue to search for what I can do in the meantime. I share the story of this day with you, because I saw this post on Facebook yesterday….

because of you I didn't give up
I didn’t give up today, because of the people who have inspired me. I have finally been successful in this journey due to the inspiration, time shared and help of so many friends, as well as strangers I’ve met along the way. Some may never know the impact their stories have had, and continue to have on my life. Amy will never know that I took a picture of all of her “feet” lined up in a dance studio on television, or how her courage and story will forever be a part of what I use, now as motivation to continue in my journey.

My greatest joy is passing on the stories and wisdom I have learned from others, as well as what I have learned along this weight loss journey, and this is one of the greatest reasons I share these stories…so that someone else will choose not to give up.

Share your stories and your struggles, ask for help, surround yourself with people who believe in you, even before you come to believe in yourself, have “anchors” all around you to bring you back to your reason “why” you are going to do this. Don’t give up, you CAN do this… One great choice at a time, bringing your best to each day, one day at a time.
this time is for you
PS…after hurting my toe on Wed, I continued to do all that I could do…. and on Saturday, I had a 3.6 pound weight loss for the week!

on boat

Going From A Setback To A Comeback…

Yes, Christmas and New Year’s is officially over, and it is definitely time to get back in the gym, choose to eat healthy, and go back to making one great choice at a time, again. I was doing so great, and allowed myself to slip a bit during the holidays, and boy was it tough going through that first workout on Jan. 2, 2104. But as I struggled going back, like so many of us do, I went to bed on Jan. 1st, and I just asked God to bring back all that I have learned, asked for the strength to move forward, and went to sleep praying for Him to provide all that I needed to get back and get moving, to be able to finish what I started. And again, as the promise states…..”The Lord Provides”.

Jan.2nd , I woke up early, dreading having to go to the gym, but worse than that, already beating myself up for all that I felt I needed to “un-do”….the yucky eating, how gross my body and stomach felt, the pounds gained so easily in less than 2 weeks, that took months to take off. And so here comes the first big choice…keep condemning myself and give in and wallow in this and continue to eat the wrong things still in the house from the holidays…or, choose to start putting those logs on the fire, (great choices) one by one (as Olivia Ward, winner of the Biggest Loser) shared with us…in order to get fired up and burning with passion and desire and motivation again.

At this point, I have to remember I’ve lost about 95 pounds, so clearly I know how to do it, but I have to choose to get back to doing it again. That was going to take holding onto all that I had learned…not only what to eat, how much, etc…. but holding onto every truth and every bit of knowledge that got me here.

I stepped out of bed with words from Andrew Pittsenbarger in my head (he spoke to us at Unleash the Champion..had lost over 140 pounds at the time). He told us that just by choosing to show up and move and exercise, no matter how fast or slow you are going, you are lapping everyone who is still sitting on the couch! I grabbed my bag with my spinning shoes and stuff for the gym, and all I said to myself was, ‘Wendy, just choose to show up at the gym, and you are already lapping everyone on the couch.”

When I got to the gym, and set up the bike, I was still dreading the workout. My body felt so gross from all the junk I had eaten. I had already stepped on the scale and was 10 pounds up (I know all of that weight is not all real, (salt, last day of binging before getting back on track, lack of drinking all my waters, etc… and will come off as soon as I stop the insanity, and the faster I get going, the faster it will come off and not stay). I had to face the damage and move on.

The music started, everyone came in to set up…each and every person admitting to sabotaging what they had worked so hard for, giving into the pressures of the holidays…but we were all back and ready to get going.

At that point, I thought about another thing Andrew had shared with me when we were on a hike…he said, “picture the ocean, and then picture pouring a pepsi into the ocean. Does the pepsi pollute and wreck the entire ocean? No, because the ocean is so much more vast, and you are only dumping one can of soda. Think of your week like that.” He continued to share, “all week long I would eat horrible things, and then I would throw in a few salads or healthy things, expecting to lose weight, but most of my week was bad things, so these few healthy things couldn’t make a difference. In my life now, my weeks are filled, meal after meal with healthy things that fuel my body and make me strong and healthy. If once in a while I would like to enjoy a piece of cheese cake, I do. I enjoy it fully, and it doesn’t change what I have done, because for weeks and weeks my food has been good. I’m putting a can of pepsi in the ocean…my ocean is all good stuff now. That one treat will not undo everything.”

I also remembered one of the most important things I learned from Carter Hays, when we worked out with him on his turf. He expected us to bring OUR best, not anyone else’s. The only person I need to outdo every day is me. This workout was tough for everyone in the room, even the very fit woman on the bike next to me. She was moaning and having a really hard time breathing and pushing through the class, and I was a bit relieved to hear others having a hard time along with me. It’s really frustrating how taking off almost 2 weeks can affect your strength, ability, endurance, etc. But step by step it will come back, and even faster, since we have been working so hard most days this past year.

As Elyse, our WW instructor says, “you may have fallen down a few steps, but it doesn’t mean you have to throw yourself down the entire flight of stairs. Stand up and turn around and start climbing again. Step by step, choice by choice. You will reach the top.”

As I pedaled and started the spin class, I had to remind myself… This week and a half of some really bad choices is not going to take away what I have done these past 2 years of changing my life. I have worked so hard for over 100 weeks, and stopping the wrong choices now and going back to what I have been doing right the rest of the year will keep my ocean, my life clean and back toward a new lifestyle of healthy eating, getting stronger and more fit. Time to stand up, turn and face the top again, and take it step by step. I will reach the top.

I continued to spin and pray and bring to mind so many of the truths I have to now grab onto again, and move forward and back into this new lifestyle I want to be my beautiful ocean of life.

*You are only 1 meal away from getting back on track.

*Get up and drink your hot water and lemon juice first thing and take your vitamins

*You must track your food and your movement (bottom line, if you don’t move more than you consume, you will not lose the weight.)…back to writing down, measuring the food, food scale back out on the counter…and putting my heart monitor on as soon as I get up in the morning, making sure the calories burned are what I need for the day.

“Wendy, You WILL praise me at the top of the mountain. Trust me.” -God

Wendy hat SONY DSC SONY DSC

These words were a promise from God, impressed on my heart over and over again during one of the toughest seasons of my life, which I went through this past spring (June/July)….

sneakersThe month of June was packed with many many challenges…it was a month filled with tears, anxiety, fear, anger, exhaustion, disappointment, questions…..many times I was asking “are you there Lord?, Are you listening?, Are you kidding me?, Why are you allowing this to happen? Really Lord!?”…. It was a time that Warren and I had to hold onto every promise we knew of from His word, every scripture….we held onto the words and promises in every hymn and praise song, which always seemed to play at the perfect time that we needed to hear it, or the lyrics would play in my heart and head just to help me hold on through another moment at times. There were times I had to just cry out and ask for the Lord to help me have enough faith to get through the next few minutes, but I also realized it was my choice to hold onto that faith…a choice to have a confident expectation that the Lord truly is all that He says He is, and can do all that He says He can do. A choice to believe either it’s all true…or none of it is true. And although every tough thing that has happened in the past few months is not resolved, YET, I am writing this to testify to the fact that, when it comes to God’s word, His promises, His character…. it is ALL true!

I went into the month of June signing on for a fitness challenge that I was going to take on, along with my “Unleash the Champion” family. It was a pretty extreme challenge headed up by Carter Hays, an incredible trainer who has trained many athletes, as well as some of the contestants from The Biggest Loser, bringing them to the finale as strong and as fit as they can be. He was creating the same scenario, an extreme challenge for extreme weight loss, for us to do just during the month of June. Some people went to train and stay with him in Nashville for the month, and others of us were going to do it as intensely as we could at home. We had to set high goals for ourselves. My extreme goal for the month was 15-20 pounds. We had our own private facebook page to check in on each other, encourage one another, as well as receive our instructions from Carter. He gave us the basic info, we had to do it all on our own from home….very specific food journals, and very extreme calorie burns. It took me over 8 hours and over 3 days just to look up and shop for, and figure out the food for the first week. I had it all set. My family was going to do all they could to help and support me, as they knew this was going to take a lot of my time for the next 30 days. I had to start 1 day late, as Weight Watchers asked me to do a speaking engagement on that Saturday. But Sunday, June 2, I was full on. I had never been at my gym on a Sunday, no classes available, so I did every machine I knew to burn big numbers. I put my Bodybugg on, burned more calories than I have ever burned in a day, and was in this challenge full throttle. June 3, Monday, I went to the gym, took 2 hours of tough classes (I told my gym about the challenge, and every instructor jacked up the classes for me to work the hardest I could work.)

June 3rd was my dad’s 79th birthday. I planned a birthday dinner, around the foods I could have, but my dad didn’t feel so well, and he decided to go to bed early, and asked me to postpone his birthday celebration to when he felt better. June 4th, I had completed 2 hours of classes, was on the elliptical to burn a little extra before going home, and one of the trainers came up to hand me the gym phone… by the look on her face, I knew it wasn’t good news.

It was my husband on the phone. He told me to hurry home, the ambulance was on it’s way, my mom had found my dad face down, up in his bedroom. I remember running out of the gym in tears, jumping into my car, calling my mother in law to start a prayer chain, and just pleading with God not to take my dad yet, I just wasn’t ready.

I followed the ambulance over to the hospital. After hours of being in the ER, they determined that he had ruptured his appendix. The infection was pretty bad, but engulfed itself. Lots of doctors together decided to treat with antibiotics, as it was too close to puncturing his bowels, etc.

The following week was spent in the hospital, almost around the clock. Dad was failing as his body tried to fight the infection. As I sat by his bedside, I prayed and wrote a lot. I tried to think of ways I could stay in the challenge, but I couldn’t leave his bedside to exercise. And there wasn’t room to exercise in his room, other than chair squats (which I did). I tried to take one class each morning, and prayed for God to just do a miracle. And in that first week He did. I lost 4.6 pounds!

Week two…more tough circumstances. I had a doctor’s appt. where they were watching something in my body.  It was still there, so they had to do a blood test to test for cancer…and I wouldn’t find out the results until the following Tuesday or so. Week two my dad also got weaker and worse. I remember, along with pleading for his life and restored health, asking the Lord, “why now? Why during this challenge?” This was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I had prepared so hard for it. All I could do was control the food completely, and choose not to take any elevators, just stairs, every time I went to, or left the hospital. I was there from morning until very late at night every day.

I realized halfway through the second week of June, that while I was living in the hospital, everything was coming due for my daughter Grace….final papers, high school finals, regents exams…she also had a big piano recital, dance recital, and was going to be singing at a wedding. While my dad was in ICU, I took a day to find a dress for her piano recital. Coming out of the dressing room, I slipped, and threw my left arm up in the air to catch myself. As I did, I felt a strange pain shoot from my shoulder down to my hand, and I remember thinking,” Ooh, that wasn’t good.” The next morning I woke up in excruciating pain. I couldn’t dress myself, I couldn’t move my arm at all, and couldn’t stop crying from the pain. I went to the doctor, and got an anti inflammatory. Thursday and Friday my husband had to dress me, the pain was worse. I ended up in Pro Health with an amazing sports doctor who told me that I had a big calcium deposit on my shoulder which burst into my arm.
He took a huge needle and put it into my shoulder, broke up more of the pieces, and filled my arm with cortisone. I had a little relief, and some great pain killers to take (which I had never taken before). The pain killers worked a little to sleep, but I slept sitting up, with a sling on my arm to hold my arm against my body. Just walking and swinging it a bit was so painful. I was told it could take months until I could get back to exercising like I was, and if the cortisone shots didn’t work, I might need surgery.

I remember reading all of the amazing posts from everyone in the challenge each and every day. The pictures of their transformations in just 2 weeks was astounding. I was so happy for them, and felt so sorry for myself.  As I thought about having to quit, I decided to just keep praying for, and encouraging everyone in the challenge, and I remember writing to Carter, deciding that I guess I had to give up the challenge completely. I will never forget what he said… He said, “Wendy, you have been climbing a mountain and you are headed for the top. You have to stop and take shelter now, and that is ok. You have come too far. Are you going to turn around and retreat and run back down the mountain..or are you going to stop and take some shelter and then keep climbing to the top?” Those words were so powerful at that moment, and I also held onto what he has always asked each and every one of us…”don’t tell me what you can’t do….tell me what you CAN do!”

I knew that I had come too far to retreat. And I knew I had to take shelter for a while, as I could barely walk, let alone exercise. I could control the food completely, so I kept up with everything Carter told us to do. Week two and week three, I ate perfectly, but could not exercise. I didn’t weigh in, because I was afraid I would be up from the cortisone shots.  I remember strapping my arm to my body, driving with one hand to the hospital, and just walking in the gloomy hallway stairwells, which no one else used. I remember just crying and praying on those steps, asking God to just get me through another day…this was all too much…..My dad was failing, my arm was in such pain, I could barely walk without pain, I was waiting for blood results which may or may not be cancer, (and we also had another huge wave of devastation hit us in another area which I can’t discuss here, but it is huge.) It was also the last month of school for my daughter, which was filled with important responsibilities.

With all of this going on, my husband and I could barely breathe, and we were barely together during this time, as he was working so much, and I was living at the hospital. We had all of our friends and family praying,  we went to church and to prayer meetings on Tuesday nights. We prayed so hard together for all of this.

The timing of all of this was also really hard, because this entire year, we were looking forward to going away and celebrating the milestones of this past year. My son turned 21, my daughter turned 16, and July 22 would be our 25th wedding anniversary. We all agreed that instead of big parties, we wanted to go away together this summer. Our dream was to go to Italy. In the beginning of spring due to other unforeseen circumstances, that dream ended for now. However, my brother had been here months ago, and he and my husband went online one morning when the campsites in Yosemite went on sale. They sell out in minutes. You can’t even ask for a specific day. That morning, they had everything typed out and in order to hit “send”, as soon as the sale started, and they miraculously got a spot that morning, for 4 days in July.

My brother told me not to worry, if we couldn’t join him,(he lives in California), he was going to go anyway, but he knew that renting an RV and taking our family to a national park was one of the things on my “bucket list”, and he and my husband did this for me. That was months and months ago, way before I knew all this would be happening. But God was already orchestrating where we would be celebrating as a family.

We hadn’t bought our plane tickets yet, as I couldn’t see us being able to leave, but every time we prayed, every time we worshipped in church, every time we were at a prayer service, every time I walked and prayed in those dark stairwells at the hospital, the Lord kept telling me in my heart, “you WILL praise me at the top of that mountain.” I would picture myself at the top of a mountain, with my hands both lifted high, just praising Him as if all this was over, as if every prayer was answered. The songs that got me through included, “if faith could move the mountains, let the mountains move”….

“If faith can move the mountains, let the mountains move
We come with expectation, waiting here for you
I’m waiting here for you..

Your the Lord of all creation, and still you know my heart
The author of salvation, you’ve loved us from the start

Waiting here for you..With our hands, lifted high in praise
And it’s you we adore, singing Alleluia.

You are everything you promised, your faithfulness is true
And we’re desperate for your presence, all we need is you.

Waiting here for You

With our hands lifted high in praise
And it’s You we adore
Singing Alleluia

 

Every time I sang this song, I pictured myself at the top of a mountain, with my hands lifted high in praise, singing these lyrics. (even though my arm was in a sling, strapped to my body in excruciating pain, not able to move..with doctors/trainers telling me that it could be months before I get my range of motion back.) And over and over again, at my darkest moments during these months, the Lord kept telling me that I was going to praise him at the top of the mountain. Trust Him.

So, here we were in June, bombarded with all these things happening. In the third week of June, my Dad started to respond to the antibiotics, and he started to get a bit better. When the hospital couldn’t do anything more, they moved him to a rehab center. He miraculously got into an outstanding rehab center that very few people know about, as it is brand new. It would take me too long to explain how that whole “God-incidence happened, but it did, and it was another miracle that I could hold onto, as it strengthened my faith to hold on and trust.  My sister came from Vermont and my brother was coming in from California to help me, as I could no longer do it on my own. My mom told me to take the trip with my family while my dad was in rehab. My sister would stay and help.

dad rehabAt the end of the third week, and second set of cortisone shots, I began to move my arm a bit. As we went into the 4th week of the weight loss challenge, we knew that this was going to be the toughest week. The amount of food was brought down to a minimal amount of calories, and those who were in the challenge were going to work out as hard as they could this week. That Monday, I went to the gym in the morning to see if I could do the treadmill. One major change in my heart, and especially in my mind that came about with this injury, is that I have gone from saying, “I have to work out” to “I GET to work out”. I can’t believe how much I missed being able to move, all the things that I took for granted when my body could do everything. I kept holding onto what Carter says, “don’t tell me what you can’t do, tell me what you can do.”  It was such a gift to be able to walk on a treadmill. Then I tried the elliptical using one arm, and then the stairclimber. I did 20 minutes on each, and it was really hard. I pushed myself a bit, but was careful not to injure my arm more. I wasn’t able to lift even a 3 pound weight with my left arm, my husband still had to help me get dressed, but that first day, I was just so happy to be back at the gym. I told myself that for this final week, I would come and do as much as I could on these 3 machines, and my husband and I would walk after dinner 4-5 miles, finding the best hills in our town to make it harder. I put my arm in a sling the first few days, then took it off as it healed. On Wednesday of that week, I called for my blood test results, and they said that the numbers were fine, there is nothing to worry about. A HUGE weight felt as if it had been lifted off of my shoulders, as my mind had gone into many dark places waiting for the results of something possibly being cancerous.

The last 48 hours of the challenge consisted of a fast. Nothing to eat, just drinking water, clear liquids for 24 or 48 hours, whatever you could do. I had never done this before. I prayed a lot during this last week, asking the Lord to just miraculously burn more calories in me than I could ever do myself, I knew He could, as I wasn’t going to be able to do this in my own strength.

If you have read my stories before, you know that I hold onto the promise, “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me”, and I was asking Him to give me His miraculous strength to finish strong, even in the midst of all that had happened this past month. My brother came in that Friday, and the challenge was ending on Sunday. I picked him up from the airport, and told him that I was in the last part of the fast for the first day. He told me that he was going to help me make it through both days. I wasn’t sure I could. At that point, I was starting to let myself off the hook and be satisfied with 24 hours. But then Carter sent out a message to all of us about finishing strong…

“What you do today during this challenge can completely validate this month for you and catapult you through tomorrow, or diminish every drop of sweat, sacrifice, and tear you’ve shed.FINISH is more than being “done”!!! it is what you’ll remember as a breakthrough time, or a breakdown time. What happen on days 1-28 are held hostage or set free by what you do today… and takes you through tomorrow like a runaway train… (then he added this scripture)..

2 Timothy 4:7 (NIV)
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

….I knew after reading his post that I had to finish this strong, even after not being able to do everything I had planned I would.

Saturday morning, I went to WW and weighed in, I was down another 7.4 pounds, which brought me to 12 for the challenge…but, I still had 1 day to go. Saturday was really tough to get through. I was so hungry, I spent a lot of time praying and journaling. That night, at around 10 pm, my brother said, “grab your sneakers, we are going for one last push.” We went for a long walk. We stopped down by the water, where they were showing an outdoor movie night of “Rocky”. We watched a little bit to get inspired…watched Rocky slurp down those raw eggs, and then we were off to finish what I started. We took a long walk, and when I hit the pillow late that night, I thanked God for being able to do this challenge, in the midst of one of the toughest months of my life, even though it turned out very differently than I had thought. I was thankful for the 12 pounds for the month, and was excited to take measurements and a final weigh in in the morning before church.

Sunday morning I came down, grabbed the tape measure, took my measurements, and then subtracted them each from the ones I took on June 1st. My body measurements went down over 11 ½ inches! Then I got on the scale….and had to look again. I lost 15 pounds!  15!….All I could say was…..ONLY GOD! ONLY GOD could have pulled out that miraculous number, because I didn’t reach enough total burns each day for that to happen. What a gift. What a blessing. What a miracle.

I went to church that morning, just thanking and praising him for this incredible miracle in the midst of one of the toughest months of my life, and as I sang and praised him, he reminded me again, “Wendy, I know things are really tough, but trust me, you WILL praise me at the top of the mountain. You are going to Yosemite, and you will praise me there.”

I wasn’t sure how I was going to climb yet, or even how I was going to pack my suitcase and carry it, and at that point, the idea of being able to raise my left arm above my head was just a dream. And the doctor said it could be weeks, maybe months till I could just raise it above my head without pain. But I was trusting God…the God who makes all things possible, the one who works ALL things together for my good. The God who just pulled out a miraculous 15 pound weight loss in a month with a major injury, incredible stress, and some other really scary and awful circumstances in our family… beyond our control.

We continued to hold onto the fact that nothing takes Him by surprise, He is the author and perfecter of time and of our faith. Even in the midst of the darkest times, He promises to work all things together for the good of those who love him…and we love Him.

Friends and family came together at home to take care of my parents so that we could fly to California to share our vacation with my brother’s family. I don’t think I took anything for granted on this trip, and I asked the Lord to just orchestrate every single moment, and not let us miss one God-incident. I kept a journal, starting on the plane, and on the top of  one of the pages I wrote, “Lord, surround the RV with your angels of protection. Let this be a time together where we share your love and say–ONLY GOD!!..at the end of each day. Orchestrate it all, and all the conversations.”

It was already surreal to all be on the airplane taking off. We were really going. Dad was doing better in rehab. A few weeks ago, we were calling a code alert in the hospital,  thinking he was about to die, and now he was in rehab starting to walk again. My mom was breathing better and on less medications for the first time in a long time, My arm was no longer in a sling, and I could dress myself and even pack my suitcase (slowly) on my own. I had just lost 15 pounds in 30 days, in the middle of one of the toughest months of my life. There were still a few other very very serious and tough situations that were still needing an act of God, but we knew (and  know) He is working on it.
SONY DSCThe trip was filled with the most incredible gifts. His timing and His presence was unmistakable. Everyone, including the kids kept pointing it all out. It was beyond extraordinary. When we arrived in Yosemite on Sunday, we rode bikes over to book our grand tour we wanted to take on Monday. The woman said, “this never happens, but we are sold out.” Instead of having my usual disappointed reaction to this fact, as it was not going with “my plan”, I said out loud, “ok, God must want us to go the next day, is that available?” The lady looked at me a little strangely, and then said, “wow, this rarely happens, but we are almost sold out on that one also. But we do have 7 spots.” I said to Warren, in front of the woman, I can’t wait to point out to the kids that God must have some reason for this timing.”

Knowing we would be on our own now the next day, we asked where the greatest hike would be, where we could see waterfalls… and she said if our kids were older and could handle it, we should go and hike Nevada and Dakota falls. She said it was a tough hike, but so beautiful, and the waterfalls were much bigger than the Yosemite falls. So, that was our plan for the next day.
both fallspgSONY DSC SONY DSC We got up that morning, excited for the hike. We started the climb, and I got to climb and share some great faith stories with my niece and nephew, something my brother had asked me to do months ago…and now this ended up being the perfect time.  We climbed and shared and took pictures at different points, and after each picture, they walked with me and asked me to continue the stories. It was beautiful.
our moment still praisingWhen we reached the bottom of the first falls, it was breathtaking! The majesty surrounding us can’t even be put into words, and even our pictures don’t do it justice. As I walked this part with my husband, we just stood there and said, “this is our moment. This is where we are going to praise Him.” We took a “self” picture and then stood there and praised Him and prayed and placed the rest of our heavy concerns into His capable and loving and mighty and powerful hands. I said those lyrics, If Faith can move a mountain, let the mountains move…. I climbed a little higher, with the falls behind me and threw my hands up in the air for Warren to take a picture. But this wasn’t over yet…
SONY DSC SONY DSC enjoying fallsJPG     The kids didn’t want to climb any further, so Warren stayed with them and they took in the majesty for a while and talked there, while my brother and I decided to climb to the very top of the falls.SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC
The rest of this climb was treacherous. Sometimes I had to climb over huge rocks and have him pull my right arm, and trust that he could pull me up, as my left arm was weak, and hurt a bit. But, it was working, and pulling. There were steps carved into the steep rocks, and my brother lead the way and just told me to follow in his footsteps. As I climbed, this whole fitness journey flashed through my head. I realized I never could have done this climb even a year ago. I was strong and fit enough to do this now. As the steps got steeper, and it was tougher to breathe, I just quoted scripture with every step, one word for each step….”I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, He works all things together for good for those who love Him, He who is in me is greater than He who is in the world, with God All things are possible….etc. etc.”

SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCThere was a point where there was a metal banister along the wall to make sure you didn’t fall off the cliff, when I  reached the very top of that, the very top of the falls, tears began to stream down my face behind my sunglasses, I was just overcome with emotion, and my brother just said, “let it out Wen, say all that you have to say!”

I shared all the things God gave me, and just said them out loud to him at the top of that waterfall. The water rushed over that cliff, and his promises, and songs just rushed out of me. It was astounding, exhilarating… and my brother and I just pointed out that only a week or 2 ago, we were in the hospital, cleaning up so many tough messes with my dad, experiencing some of the worst moments you can in a hospital… and here we both were, at the top of this waterfall just thanking God for what He has done. We took in the breathtaking scenery, took some great pictures to try to capture what was going on, and prayed for those things, still unanswered at this time. Again, placing it all into the same hands that created everything surrounding us at this moment. It was overwhelming.

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wah n wen It was a day I will never ever forget. God promised me that I would praise Him at the top of the mountain, in the midst of the darkest days, in the midst of excruciating pain and disappointment, at the times I was crying my hardest, and in the dark stairwells of a hospital…not only did he fulfill this incredible promise, but….take a breath here…. He orchestrated THIS promised moment, all to occur…. on the EXACT day of our 25th wedding anniversary!! ( remember how we hit “send” on the computer months ago to win a spot in a lottery where you can’t request a date, remember how the grand tour was sold out?, etc. etc.)
gang on rockThat continues to take my breath away when I think of His timing. Months and months ago, before all of this happened, before this tough month of June even happened, it was placed on my brother’s heart to try for a random spot and a random time in Yosemite,(which was closed out in minutes), yet we got a spot, for 4 days, which happened to fall on my 25th wedding anniversary. Then a tour that rarely sells out, sells out, so that we can’t go, because God knew that He wanted to fulfill His promise to me on the actual date of this momentous occasion. So…..for the rest of my life, we can glorify Him and tell this incredible story about a God who’s promises are YES and AMEN!.. And who is clearly the author and perfecter of time. Nothing takes Him by surprise, even if it takes us by surprise.

us on mtn our family love him! I couldn’t have planned this story if I tried, and it is only part of all that happened during this trip, I would need a few more hours and a few more blogs to tell you about the rest, because just as I asked Him, every night we all said, “Only God could have done that today!”….Just as He promises…He did ABUNDANTLY MORE than I could have ever asked or imagined!

During the darkest moments these past few months, all we could do was pray, hold onto promises, ask for his peace that passes all understanding, especially when we felt alone, abandoned, forgotten…scared, anxious, defeated. As the Psalmist says, “there may be pain in the night, but joy comes in the morning.” We are still walking through some tough stuff, but He is faithful. He has never ever left us before, even in the midst of the toughest times, so we know we don’t have to walk through it alone.

As we continue to pray for all of our concerns, we are brought back to that place, standing at the waterfall, surrounded the most beautiful scenes of nature just shouting out His majesty…we remember that He brought us there together on our actual 25th wedding anniversary, fulfilling a promise He gave us over and over again in the midst of so much heartache… that we would praise Him at the top of the mountain. We praised Him for all He has done, for what He is doing and for what He will do. And we live this day in faith…a confident expectation that He is all He says He is and will do all that He says He will do. He is the yes, and we are the amen!

I pray that this story encourages you today and strengthens your faith, no matter what you are going through, feeling or facing. He is faithful, He loves you so much, and He will never let you go.