what a difference six months can make

When I hit rock bottom this summer, I had no idea that my life would be so different in just six short months. So many times in my life I’ve looked back and thought to myself, “If I’d started doing [fill in the blank] six months ago (or a year ago), think of where I’d be today!” Well, this time, I did start doing something six months ago and I’m so proud of where I am today.

I’ve learned so much about myself over the past six months. It’s been about more than just losing the weight. It’s been figuring out what triggers my overeating and how to manage that. It’s been discovering how to be social without having it revolve around food. It’s been understanding how I’ve been standing in my own way in so many ways. I started this journey on July 14th and in just under six months, I’ve lost about 50 lbs and gained so much more.

When I started this, I also started (re-started, I should say, for the third or fourth time) a 100-day challenge with a couple of friends which involved taking a selfie every day. Even after the 100 days, I continued to take selfies with some regularity. And I’m so glad I did. It’s kind of amazing (at least to me) to watch my body (and spirit) change before my eyes.

And on that note, before I share the video, I just want to make a few more comments. Being someone who’s struggled with my weight for almost as long as I can remember, I’ve felt the pressure to look a certain way my entire life. But this has not been about looking a certain way. Sure, it’s one of the benefits. It’s the benefit that everyone can see. But for me, and my daily life, it really is about so much more than that.

This transformation is about being able to sit down on a deep couch and not worry about how awkward I’m going to look as I try and get up off of it. It’s about going scuba diving and not having my mind consumed with how I’m going to get back onto the boat when there’s no ladder. It’s about buying clothes that look good on me and not just whatever fits. It’s about going on first dates and not worrying that the first thing a guy is going to think is that I’m fat (yes, blind dates…from the interwebs).

It’s about not worrying about what I look like in pictures any time someone pulls out a camera. It’s about having the energy to keep up with all of my nieces and nephews, including going down the slides at the park and knowing my butt will fit. It’s about not constantly wasting brain space thinking about my weight, or how I look, or beating myself up about what I should or shouldn’t have eaten. But most of all, it’s about feeling like I’m taking care of this amazing body God has given me.

ETA: And again, there are so many people I have to thank for their support along the way in this! You all know who you are! Thank you!!!

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.

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.”

owning it

So, if you follow me on Instagram or we’re friends on FB, you know that recently I’ve had this little problem? obsession? affinity to? (take your pic) posting pictures of myself in various outfits. (I’ve posted the pics here, too…apologies to those of you who have seen all of these already.) Yeah, it’s  self-indulgent and rather obnoxious, but it’s a big deal for me. And it’s not because I think I look amazing or that people want to see all these self-portraits of me in different outfits. It’s also not because I’ve recently lost 20 lbs and want to show it off (I haven’t). It started with a request to see the maxi dress I’d posted about somewhere.

Never in my life had I considered posting (or even taking, for that matter) a full body shot of just myself because why would I ever do that when I so dislike what my body looks like right now (and always, really, even when I did weight 60 lbs less than I do today)? But something in me finally decided I was done and that it was time to just be okay with me as I am right now.

Would I love to lose 60 lbs? Hell yes. I’d take 5 lbs at this point. And do I think exercise and eating right are optimal for good health and happiness? Of course. But I’ve spent most of my life thinking about how much better it would be if I could just lose those 20 (or 30 or 60) lbs. Every (and I do mean every) success in my life has been tarnished by and every failure has been more painful as a result of these thoughts. And it has been exhausting. And sad. And a big, fat (pun intended) waste of brain space. 
The request for a picture of the maxi dress was a big part of this, but I don’t think I would have been in the mind I was in without moving to Japan. Here, it wouldn’t matter if I was skinny, I would still stick out like a sore thumb and there’s nothing I can do about it. People stare. People occasionally even move when I sit next to them on the subway. (Yeah, I’m not kidding. It has happened to all of us “gaijin” at one point or another.) Children point and say “Amerikajin”. No getting around it. And there is an incredible amount of freedom in that. 
And then there’s the fact that my life does not currently include anyone I would seriously consider dating or a circle of single girlfriends who are all constantly worrying about what they look like and their “marketability” and there’s freedom in that. So, in the absence of worrying about what other people think about what I look like and constant comments from women both thinner and prettier than I am about how they wish they were prettier and thinner, I am free to just be me. I’ve been able to let go more than I’ve ever been able to before. And letting go means that when I went home in November and needed to get some new clothes, I bought things that fit me and looked good on my body as it is right now, without worrying about what size they were or what store I’d purchased them at or indulging some hope (dream?) that I’d magically lose 5-10 lbs so it would be okay to buy something that’s just a little too small because that would be the motivation I needed to lose weight.

(Side note: I seriously could have outfitted an entire village–or four–for a generation with the myriad articles of clothing I’ve purchased on that hope, never worn, and subsequently donated when they were finally out of style…with them still not fitting me.)
While it makes me sad thinking about all the opportunities for happiness I’ve wasted worrying so much about something that is such an insignificant part of who I am, today is a new day. Today, I’m choosing to be the best version of who I am right now, extra pounds and all. And so I’ve been taking pictures to capture how I look and feel as I am right now. (Bet you didn’t realize there was all of that going on in my head.) And it feels so good to wake up in the morning and know I have clothes that will fit and that I will feel good in, even if they aren’t the size I want them to be. Even if I’m not the size I want me to be. 

There’s only one “today” and I will no longer be wasting it on thoughts of how much better tomorrow might be, if only…

to bleach or not to bleach

What to do? I’ve now been a brunette for a little almost five months. It has been fun. It’s a totally different look, but by paying a small fortune for someone to color it who really knows her stuff, I have to say that I think I have made a fabulous brunette. That said, I miss my blond locks. Until my mid-twenties, they were naturally blond, and then it gradually darkened and I gradually lightened, and so I remained a blonde. The change has been fun, but I thought I’d be used to looking in the mirror and seeing a brunette by now. I’m not. I love how it looks, it just doesn’t look like me. I still do double takes.

The executive decision…I’m going back to being a blonde in a little over two weeks (my next appointment). I’m going to enjoy the brown hair while it lasts, but I’m excited to feel like me again. Also, I don’t like having roots that are lighter than my hair color…I keep thinking I look like I’m going gray (which, incidentally, I am not…I thought I found one gray hair, but I couldn’t be sure) and that makes me crazy, too.

Feel free to share your thoughts on it. My dad did. He informed me that he didn’t like my brown hair, which was almost enough for me to keep it that way for the rest of my life, but I try not to let my pride dictate my actions. Try being the operative word. The truth is I love being a blonde who hails from California. Cliche? Yes. But I don’t care.

Now I just have to decide on a new style. Keep the bangs? Grow them out? Chop it more? Go back to long? Can I just say how lucky I feel to have so many options? I truly appreciate my hair and all that I can do with! I know not everyone is this lucky.