hitting rock bottom…and going up (or down, depending on how you look at it) from there


heading back from diving near cape town – june 24, 2014

Whilst in South Africa, I was able to go diving. If you’ve read my blog over the past few years, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of diving and go as often as I can. So, this trip was a great opportunity and I had high hopes of seeing lots of sharks (which I did, although no great whites as the sea was too rough the day we were hoping to go see those), but not really the point of this post.

So, I did go diving and, while I do love it, since I started getting back into it, it’s been a bit of a love/hate thing. I love doing it, but there’s a lot of stress leading up to it because of my weight. I’m capable of doing it, but there’s always a question of whether they’ll have a wetsuit that fits me (my first trip in Okinawa, they did not…it was fairly depressing), how much weight I’ll need, etc, etc.

Well, Cape Town presented a new challenge: diving from a large zodiac with no ladder. Before even leaving the dock, my thoughts were already preoccupied with how I was going to get back onto the boat after diving. And those thoughts continued throughout my first dive. And I was worried with good reason. While none of the divers in the group could get themselves in without help (it requires a lot of upper body strength), I was the only diver that required two people to help me. And I looked and felt ridiculous as I got hoisted back into the boat. In fact, it was so bad that I seriously considered sitting the next dive out.

Of course I didn’t do that, but something clicked at that point. While I’ve always struggled with my weight, it had never interfered with my experiences in life the way I felt it did in that moment. It made, what should have been, an incredible dive something different. My weight was stealing my joy. This experience combined with not finishing the marathon earlier in the week was just too much for me. I sat quietly on the boat as we drove to our next dive site, closing my eyes, and doing my best to hold back the tears. I had hit rock bottom. In that moment, I determined that this would be the last time I would feel exactly like this. I didn’t know how I was going to change it, but I knew it was time.

A week later, I was in Indiana camping with my brother and his family and a bunch of our mutual MBA friends. My sister-in-law commented that one of those friends had lost a lot of weight. I had seen this friend very recently while she was visiting in Japan and she looked the same is I remembered her (prior to that, I hadn’t seen her for a couple of years), but apparently work travel had been rough on her and when I saw her, she’d already lost most of that weight, so I didn’t know any different. Anyway, we got to talking about how she’d done it and she told us she’d been using Isagenix.

Now, I’d heard of this product before because my sister-in-law had used it, but I’d never been tempted to do it (I didn’t know much about it and I’m totally leery of anything direct sales related). However, in that moment, both my sister-in-law and I decided we would do it together and we committed to starting as soon as my vacation was over.

I had another week left of traveling in the U.S. and my final stop was Arizona. While there, I went to the doctor to get some blood work done. In the process, I was officially weighed and tipped the scales at my highest weight ever. Higher than even my fattest time on my mission. While this could have been disastrous, I already had a plan, and this moment was all I needed to ensure that I stuck to it.

So, I got back to Japan on July 13th and the next day I started on Isagenix with my sister-in-law as my long-distance buddy. I started seeing results on the scale right away. Unfortunately, in the first month, I also remembered just how obsessive I can get about my weight and the reason I stopped weighing myself a few years back. Over the course of the first 17 days, I lost consistently except for one day. Yes. Only on one measly day did I see the number on the scale go up at all…but that was enough to put me in a bad mood for the entire day. I was discussing this with my sister-in-law, and she suggested that I stop weighing myself daily, so I did. I stopped on day 18 and then weighed myself again on day 30 for a total loss in my first 30 days of 18.4 lbs!

When I began month two, I was also connected with my friend, Aubrey, who’s an Isagenix distributor and coach, and I committed to myself and her and my sister-in-law that I wouldn’t weigh myself at all throughout the month, This was HARD! But it also meant that when I had a day here or there where I indulged a bit, I wasn’t beating myself up. And, rather than weighing myself, I started tracking calories.

While Isagenix is laid out really well, I had also really started back into exercising quite consistently, and for the first time in my life while trying to lose weight, I wanted to make sure I was eating enough. Such a difference from the past. You see, prior to this, I’ve never lost weight in a truly healthy way. I went through bouts of starvation and laxative abuse in high school and college, I tried Atkins in my early 20s, HCG in my early 30s. Weight Watchers was the closest I got to “healthy” in that I wasn’t starving myself, but even with Weight Watchers it was all too easy to continue eating junk (just a lot less of it…still a fan of the program if you do it in the right spirit). But this program…this lifestyle…is different. I can maintain this. It works with my life.

During my second 30-days, my body really started to feel different. And I was excited to exercise every day. I was getting ready to hike Mt. Fuji, as well, and was excited about the prospect of doing it with at least 18 lbs off of me. It’s not that I hadn’t been exercising before, but weight makes a big difference. My running times were improving. I was feeling great. When I got to day 60 (after conquering Fuji, which was incredible), I almost didn’t want to weigh myself because I knew I was still losing and I was feeling so good, but I also felt like I needed to have that number just as a point of reference for the future, so the morning of day 61, I got on the scale. Another 16.5 lbs down for a total of 34.9 lbs in 60 days!

10407731_10154608402915389_3834516360543429790_n The last three days, I’ve been in Okinawa for work and had the chance to spend Monday scuba diving. What a difference 34.9 lbs makes. This was a totally different experience than my trip in South Africa. I didn’t have to get the largest size BCD and hope that it would fit. I got a Large instead of an XL and it was actually a little big. I enjoyed every minute of the experience. I wasn’t the fat American. I was just the American.


post diving in south africa – june 24, 2014


post diving in okinawa – september 15, 2014


can you see how happy i am in this moment?!

Now, I still have a long way to go to my goal…not quite halfway there…but I have confidence that I can get there. In the past, whatever I’ve been doing has been so hard that I’ve wanted to lose as much as I could as quickly as possible because I knew it wouldn’t last. This is different. This is a lifestyle change. This is me giving my body what it needs to be healthy and strong. It’s not about being skinny (although I do love how I look with the weight gone). It’s about experiencing my life the way I want to experience it. It’s about being able to be the person I am on the inside because the outside of me isn’t an obstacle.

There have been some bumps (the business trip to Okinawa has been one…still figuring out how to break old habits), but nothing has devastated me. I know the weight loss will slow down, but I don’t doubt that it will continue, or that I will continue to feel great in the process. I’m reaching new fitness goals. I’m shrinking out of my wardrobe. Really, this has changed my life and I wanted to document it. And here are some before/current photos (not all labeled, but before is always on left and now is on the right) to capture this in images because I think it’s so valuable to see not just the difference in my body, but the difference in how I feel that you can actually see through these pictures. It really is amazing.


so, basically, this dress that required spanx and a careful consideration before wearing is now too big for me, which makes me sad because I love it…but not enough to do what I would need to in order to continue to wear it.


please don’t judge me for the socks i’m wearing on the left…i had boots on that day, but in true japanese form, i don’t wear shoes in my apartment, thus the polkadot socks. 😉

unnamed unnamed Note: While I am still not a fan of the whole MLM thing, I do get why this is sold in this way…you get great attention and coaching. I’m not trying to build a business, but I do love these products and, if you are interested, let me know.

ETA: Oh, and how could I forget my phenphen phase; best results ever…and I was a complete nightmare to live with/be around. Good times. Good times.


As mentioned earlier, Cambodia was hard for me. It was totally amazing I would do it again in a heartbeat (you know, make the same choice…not sure I’d go back for round two). I’ve never seen poverty like I saw there first hand. And I know, as I stated earlier, that it’s much worse in other places. But it was new for me.

We actually got hooked up with this amazing driver who’s a member of my church. My friends, Monica and Mathew, had been there some months earlier and highly recommended Loy and he did not disappoint. The tour he gave us was amazing, mostly because he shared so much of himself with us. Normally, there’s a driver and a tour guide, but as our first day we weren’t planning to see the temples, we didn’t hire a guide and it was great because we got a chance to chat with Loy.


Talk about an amazing man. He lost five of his six siblings during the reign of the Khmer Rouge. I can’t even imagine losing one sibling. And this was after being out to the floating villages. I’m not going to try and describe how I felt, but here are a few photos from the day. I feel a little exploitive even posting these, but I want this memory because I never want to forget just how grateful I need to be that I didn’t have to go through such trials and to remember that because of that, I need to do what I can to help those less fortunate than I am in whatever way I can.

DSC_0137 DSC_0158 DSC_0165 DSC_0184

So, at the end of day one in Cambodia, I felt (as I do now) incredibly grateful for my childhood and all of the comfort and security it held…even in its worst moments. I never worried about where my next meal was coming from, or whether I’d be able to see a doctor or get medication if I was sick. Or whether I’d have clean drinking water.

One of my favorite things about traveling around and living in foreign countries is the perspective it gives me and the constant reflection it forces. And because it always makes me grateful for my home and my family and all of the amazing blessings I have.

it’s been a while…

I can’t believe it’s been over a month since I lasted posted. In any case, it’s with good reason. My shipment from the U.S. (all my earthly belongings not already here with me) arrived in Japan on April 9th and since then, my life has been a whirlwind of IKEA furniture building, unpacking, and then some serious traveling. I need to get on the blog updates, and they are coming, but tonight I just want to capture how very blessed I feel at this moment.

As I sit here on my couch–my delightfully comfortable and beautifully red sectional from IKEA–listening to the Debussy channel on Pandora via my Roku, looking out my window on this incredible city, with the sound of rain in the background, I can’t help be think of just how lucky I am to have the life I have right now. It’s not without its trials–some of which I brought with me, some of which are new since arriving–but all in all, my heart is full of gratitude for this opportunity that I’ve been given and where my life is today.

And now, as much as I want to catch up on the blog, I need to write my sweet nephew, who’s currently on a mission for my church, a letter and then get to bed. My goal is to get some real updates done this week.

some necessary pruning

conservatory garden, central park, nyc

This week was hard. Like, really and truly hard. Like “cry at least once a day” hard. My heart broke a little, in fact. Not the romantic kind of break (that isn’t nearly as painful in my experience), but the kind of break that comes from the realization that you are deeply flawed. And while I thought I’d eradicated said flaw, in fact I haven’t nor had I noticed that it was still there. And as a result of this flaw, I’ve alienated or hurt people. A broken heart that comes from learning how negatively someone sees you and then recognizing that everything s/he has said is true and that you needed to hear it, even if hearing it was incredibly hard. A broken heart that comes from regret and sorrow for past and present behaviors. And from knowing just how disappointed my mom would have been if she were here.

Oh, the things I would give for a do-over (or 100 do-overs).

I’m not writing this because I want anyone to feel bad for me. I don’t. I’m the one that got me here and I’m the one that has to get me out. And I’m getting there. I’m writing this because this isn’t the first time I’ve learned this lesson and I want it documented this go around. I’m writing this because writing is my outlet. I’m writing this because, even if I’m not prepared to be explicit, I do want to be real.

I’ve learned a lot this week. It’s amazing that there never seems to be less to learn, isn’t it? And while most of what I learned was about myself, I also learned a little more about Japanese culture, like that there is some real beauty in the Japanese traits of politeness and discretion that usually make me a little crazy, but when you’re sitting at your desk at work at 10PM crying because your heart hurts (and not just “tears rolling down your cheeks” but “tear streaming, nose running, breath halting” type of crying),  and you’re coworker just pretends that nothing is wrong and keeps doing her thing, you can’t help but recognize the value of such traits.

Any time I go through something especially difficult, my thoughts often turn to my mother and how I wish she was still around to help me through these things. Not because she’d make it all better or because she’d be on my “side”. She was always on my side in the sense that she wanted me to be successful in life, but if I was in the wrong, she wouldn’t tell me otherwise. She would, however, always help me see what I could do to make things better, to make me better. And then she would tell me she loved me.

The safety, security, and courage that come from unconditional love should never be underestimated.

I have a long way to go. Old habits die hard. And I have a lot of regrets. And a lot of apologies to make. I am also full of gratitude to the people whom I know I’ve hurt or wronged and who have given me their forgiveness without waiting for me to ask for it.

I’m sorry for being vague. I try not to be on the blog. But the wound is too fresh to open it up for public viewing and commentary. My heart still hurts and it probably will (and should) for a while. I’m also pretty ashamed and embarrassed. And while I’ve recognized what I need to change and made some improvements, I still have a long way to go. That’s all.

To end this on a more positive note, because really the result of all of this (I hope) is that I’m going to be a better person and that’s a good thing, I want to share one of my favorite quotes that is so very applicable.

Mere Christianity is one of my favorite books. C.S. Lewis so eloquently captures what he imagines Christ would say to each of us:

“Give me all of you!!! I don’t want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work. I want YOU!!! ALL OF YOU!! I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man or woman, but to KILL IT! No half measures will do. I don’t want to only prune a branch here and a branch there; rather I want the whole tree out! Hand it over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them ALL over to me, give yourself to me and I will make of you a new self—in my image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you Myself. My will, shall become your will. My heart, shall become your heart.”

the last brownie

Last week I posted this photo on FB (and Instagram…I’m totally addicted to Instagram)…


…and it was really fun to see all of the comments people left. Obviously, I like this picture. But the comments I liked the best weren’t about what I looked like on the outside, but about how people could tell I’m happy. I feel like you can’t fake that. And I wasn’t. I really am so happy with my life right now.

And since arriving in New York and seeing people I haven’t seen in a while, their reaction has been the same. I’ve received lovely compliments about how happy I look. Could there be anything better than that?

That’s not to say that there aren’t things I think I need to change (there are always things I think I need to change), or that it is all sunshine and butterflies (I just had a mini-breakdown about something totally ridiculous on Saturday night). But the reality is somehow, someway, over the past few years, I feel like I’ve figured a few things out.

The first, and most important, is that life is going to happen and I can choose to be a victim or not. And I am not a victim. Yes, crap things have happened to me in my life. Yes, my life is not exactly how I would want it to be if I had control over everything. But. But! I can choose how I react to what happens.

The second is that I can choose to do everything I can to make my life as good as it can possibly be in terms of the things that I can control. I may not have the exact things that I dreamed I would have when I was 16, but I have done the best I can with what I’ve been given and that’s something I can feel really good about.

The third thing is that friends and family are really what matters. I know that I’ve decide to spend the next who knows how long in Tokyo…on the other side of the world from most of my friends and all of my family, but I wouldn’t be able to do that if I didn’t have their support and know that they were there when I need them (and vice versa). And it has been so nice during this trip to be able to see so many friends and most of my immediate family (as of tomorrow night).


Fourth, I really believe that God wants me to be happy. And sometimes part of that happiness means going through hard things so that I can learn and grow. But if I choose to learn and grow from those hard things, I will be a better person for it. And I will have the confidence that comes from going through hard things and the ability to empathize with those in similar circumstances.

And finally (and maybe most importantly) on those days when all else fails, I can always think of someone who deserves that last brownie more than I do. And sometimes that’s what it takes.