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.

i want to tear down the walls that hold me inside

race gear

When I first started distance running, it was with the end goal of losing weight. Let’s be honest, 99% of anything I did that was exercise related had always been with weight loss in mind. From the day I got my first gym membership at the way-too-young age of 15 through to when I started training for my first marathon, exercise was about weight loss/control. And, while I’ve gotten much, much better about reframing, it’s still really hard for me to not hate the idea of exercise because I hate when I start to obsess about my weight and then I start to loathe exercising because it will never be disconnected from the years I’ve spent feeling ugly/fat/insecure/etc.

IMGP0042Even today, even though I’ve become much more comfortable in my own skin, every time I get ready to exercise, there’s still that moment when I think, “I shouldn’t have to do this.” It doesn’t matter that at my age, everyone should be doing “this”. And I like to exercise. I like how I feel when I’m doing it. I like how I feel when I’m done. I’m a happier person overall when I do it. But that little voice is still there telling me that the main reason I’m doing it is to try and be pretty/thin/secure enough.

1450828_10153410280635389_546822729_nWhat distance running did for me was to show me just how much my body could do. I’ve written a number of posts about this, in fact. So, even though I hadn’t done any distance running (and almost no running at all, for that matter) since moving to Japan, when my friend, Brittany, asked me if I’d like to join her in running a half-marathon in Burma (aka Myanmar, and yes, I did have to look it up and the only reason I actually recognized the that this was the name of a country was because I’d had two friends go their this past summer), I agreed on the spot, knowing this would force me to do something in the running department.

IMGP0058There are so many things about my trip to Burma that I could talk about (and maybe I will someday if I ever get around to it), but the reason we went there was to run this half-marathon through the temples, so that’s what I want to capture here.

IMGP0025Leading up to the half, I tried to get on the training bandwagon, but the reality was I was super busy. Between the craziness of my job, the responsibility I’ve been given at church, and my inability to say “no” to any invitation and/or to not have a dinner party on any given Sunday, I just wasn’t getting around to running. Before heading to Burma, I got in exactly two runs. One was four miles, the other six. And the latter involved quite a bit of walking. Side note: one of the things I hate about not running for so long is that while mentally, my brain knows that my body is physically capable of doing it, I also know that my body won’t be able to do it right away. And that hurts.

IMGP0046 IMGP0050 IMGP0051 IMGP0052So, by the time we arrived at the starting line Saturday morning, I knew I had no hope of anything but my worst half-marathon time even. And while it shouldn’t be about the time, I’m still always trying to prove something, so it was still about the time. And I hated that I was going to be so slow. Never mind the fact that I never questioned whether I’d be able to finish even though I had basically not trained. Never mind that the terrain and scenery on this route would make it near impossible to not get my slowest time even if I had been trained. I wanted to be able to run faster than my slowest time. I wanted to pace with Brittany who had been training and actually done a 10 mile run prior to the actual race. (Perhaps my boss was right to tell me last week that I might need to start lowering my expectations of myself…)

IMGP0062 IMGP0069But then something amazing happened. The gun went off and I started running and suddenly, I remembered. I remembered how amazing this body is that I’ve been given. That I can run 13.1 miles (or wog, whatever) and not ever question whether I’ll finish. Even in 90F+ weather and humidity. Even though I hadn’t trained. Even if I was going to be slower than I’d ever been. The emotions that evoked combined with the incredible opportunity I had been given to run in this amazing country, in the same race as some of Burma’s top runners, and the sheer beauty of the world in that moment was almost more than I could handle and, had it not been for the fact that I was running, and therefore using my full lung capacity to support that process, I probably would have started bawling right there on the spot.

IMGP0071 IMGP0080 IMGP0081 IMGP0085 IMGP0087While I wasn’t able to kick the feelings of disappointment in myself until almost the end of the race, knowing I wouldn’t PR, I was able to enjoy the scenery around me, stop and take a few photos here and there, and appreciate the experience perhaps more than I’ve appreciated any other race I’ve run.

IMGP0089 IMGP0090 IMGP0094 580747_10153410281360389_1707711453_n IMGP0100

Added to the normal feelings of gratitude I have for my body and my health anytime I run any race 10 miles or more, there was the gratitude I had for the sweet Burmese villagers who came out to cheer us on. These people who have almost nothing spent their morning sitting by the side of the road, cheering on foreigners (for the most part) who had paid more to get to their villages and run in this race than they likely make in a year. Talk about a generous culture. This almost brought be to tears for the second time during the race.

Much earlier in the morning during breakfast at the ridiculous hour of 4:30am, I’d been chatting with a woman who was going to run the full marathon. I’d mentioned that I hadn’t trained almost at all and was going to get my slowest time ever. And then, near the end of the race, after Brittany had already finished and I still had about two miles to go, I passed her. She’d ended up switching to the half at the split point because her body wasn’t cooperating in the heat and humidity.

While I had made those comments in defense of myself and what really was going to be my slowest time, in the moment I passed her, I’d wished more than anything that I could have eaten those words instead of the toast I’d had at breakfast. And I wanted more than anything for this woman to flat out beat me. And suddenly, I forgot about my disappointment in myself, and was left with only gratitude. That said, I didn’t hang back and let the woman beat me because she would have known it was intentional and no one enjoys being pitied. But I was able to completely let go and enjoy those last two miles in a different way than the previous 11.



When I finally crossed the finish line, I’d completely let go of time. I was focused on how amazing it was that I was able to be in Burma, running through thousands of temples that had been there for thousands of year and do so with only one blister to show for it. And I was focused on the beautiful medal hanging around my neck indicating that I was a finisher.

i am grateful for singing (not the same as karaoke…that post will be coming soon)

I have always loved to sing. Choir in elementary school was one of my favorite classes. I sang in talent shows and around the house. In middle school, I participated in our school musical, The Boyfriend (I played the French maid). And then in high school, I was part of our a cappella choir. Choir was one of the highlights of high school for me. I loved it so much.



C&J Christmas Concert

C&J Christmas Concert 2 When I got to college, I decided to audition for one of BYU’s four choirs, Women’s Chorus. I think it would be appropriate to mention here that while I LOVE to sing, I might be the worst auditioner (yes, I know that’s not really a word) of all time. Like, the worst. I get incredibly nervous. There’s something I’ve never liked about needing to “prove myself”. So, by some miracle (or the fact that the choir conductor knew what she was looking for), I made it past the first round of auditions (the soloist round) into the group auditions.

Well, in a group, I am fine. My talent is not in soloing. I’ve never had the voice quality to solo. But I am an amazing blender. So, once I made it to that round, all was well and I made it through. I loved it so much. That didn’t keep me from missing class every so often (not sure why), but really, it was so fun. And then I’d hang out after class and listen to the Men’s Chorus.

Women's Chorus 2

Women's Chorus

In fact, while in the Women’s Chorus, I had the opportunity to sing during one of the world wide meetings for the women in my church. And, besides it just being a cool opportunity, at the time, my sister was on a mission for our church in Washington D.C. and she’d been gone about nine months at that point and she got to see me singing on a big screen on the other side of the country.

If you watch this video, you’ll see me on the far right aisle at about 1m25s three rows from the bottom.

So, fast forward about *cough* 10 or 15 *cough* years, and I’ve been missing singing a lot. Shortly after moving to Tokyo, I was asked if I would lead the music in our main church meeting each week, which I’ve been doing since last August about. As part of that, I promised myself I would try and sing in church (like, in a small group or on my own) and so, I’ve done it twice now (including today). And, while I am not in the greatest vocal condition these days (I’m quite out of practice), it’s felt amazing to both be singing again and to be pushing myself out of my comfort zone a little.

With that, I am posting the two songs I’ve sung. One was a run through (when I sang in church, it was with my friend Teresa) and the other is from today, with the same friend and one of the cute girls at church who’s part of the youth group. And in fact, the song we sung today, I Need Thee Every Hour, was a song that I got to sing in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake as part of a missionary choir when I was in training before heading off to Switzerland for 18 months. And in fact, it was a pivotal point for me during that time. Music has such power and I have always felt the closest to God while singing.

And they are not perfect, but they are from my heart and soul. As much as I always love singing, I love singing the most when I am singing in praise of my Savior and my Father in Heaven.

one night in bangkok (well, one night and one day)


Rough life, I know, but you can’t fly within 24 hours of diving, so I was forced to lie on the beach for the morning. And while lying on the beach all by itself would have been enough, it got even better as I watched this guy take photos of his girlfriend. There were even wardrobe changes. It was amazing. And so entertaining.

IMG_3701 And then it was time to head to Bangkok…and on the way I bought what I thought was a bag of Pretzel M&Ms. But no…it was Crispy M&Ms! Such a happy surprise. It was like the universe was smiling down on me.


Bangkok from the air. Pretty amazing.


A nice welcome during my cab ride into the city.

Maria flew in the from the U.S. the same night I flew in from Phuket, just a bit later. It was so fun to have her join me for the rest of the trip!

And now, here’s what I have to say about Bangkok. If you are a twenty-something looking for spring break all year long with no ID checks and all the booze you could possibly want, Bangkok is a good start. But, there are other awesome things about it, too. That said, 24-hours plus a little was enough time in the summer heat. I got to enjoy the markets, hang out in the pool, float on the river, checkout the a museum, a Buddha, and some palaces, witness a lot of stupid behavior and debauchery, and have a Thai massage (or what I have now come to refer to as the Thai Tranny Torture Treatment).

In any case, it was lots of fun and left us with some awesome/crazy/funny memories, which is about as much as one could ask for.


Happily sunkissed and so excited to be getting in yet another pool Someday, I will have my very own pool. For now, I’ll just be grateful for the fact that my skin isn’t getting nearly as damaged as it would be if I currently had access to one all the time.


Everything about this is wrong. And stupid. And I guarantee you this kid will live to regret his drunken decision.



The view from the pool on the roof of our hotel.








Maybe the weirdest history museum I’ve ever been to. But this hanging mobile thing was cool.


The Reclining Buddha.





We left Bangkok the following evening on a night train bound for Chiang Mai. As you can see the train station was basically the Thai version of Grand Central. Or something like that. And the train ride was…interesting. I’ll just go ahead and tell you that the train ride back, for which tickets had already been purchased, ended up being viewed as a sunk cost. More to come.


a perfectly ordinary weekend

Without getting too deep into the details (I’ve drafted a super detailed post, but I’m not sure anyone really wants to read that much), to say this past week was hard would be an understatement. There were some really good moments, but honestly, this week was by far the hardest one I’ve had since moving to Japan (and then some). It was long and exhausting and things kept going wrong. Like really basic things; missing my stop on the train, getting on the wrong train, my computer crashing, my email not working, not being able to find things on shared drives, forgetting to respond to an email I really needed to respond to, etc, etc. And that on top of a schedule that would have kicked my butt all on its own.


By the time Friday rolled around, I was so happy, I might have cried tears of joy. You know, as opposed the tears of frustration and failure that I’d cried on various other occasions during the week. In fact, I’m pretty sure God knew that I had hit my limit because, while I had made a commitment to myself to attend the temple, I was having a serious existential crisis trying to figure out how to keep that commitment and get everything done at work that I needed to get done, and just like that, five minutes before I needed be walking out the door, my computer kicked me off. I just stared at my screen as program after program shut down and I was logged off. I was done. That put enough of a pause in my work momentum to remind me that, contrary to what my actions of indicate, no one was going to die if I didn’t get this or that email sent or form filled out. So I packed up my stuff, said goodbye to my coworkers (all of whom were still there) and walked out the door.

I’m sure I would have enjoyed my weekend whether I had made it to the temple or not, but I’m also sure that it was that much better because I did go. I just needed to be reminded of what is most important. Combine that with some warmer temperatures, and a perfect weekend was in the making.

After the temple and dinner out at this amazing kushiage place, Tatsukichi, that one of my business heads recommended, I was walking home and suddenly I was in this perfect Tokyo moment. I’m not sure exactly how to describe it, except to say that I felt completely content and happy. One of those moments you wish you could capture in a photograph to put on your wall or bottle up to be imbibed later. I couldn’t stop smiling. Which was kind of incredible considering the week I’d just had. But that’s life, right?

Besides going to the temple, I made one other very important decision during the week which greatly affected the awesomeness of my weekend. I got a cleaning lady recommendation from one of my friends and scheduled her to come on Saturday morning. What an amazing blessing to be able to afford that right now. I know it won’t be a forever thing, but right now I can afford it and it’s totally worth it to buy myself some time.

Saturday morning, Norie showed up and, at first, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself. It was kind of like when the movers came to pack me up in New York. I’m not used to sitting by while other people do the things I would normally do and that I’m perfectly capable of doing. Seeing as how I’d just purchased myself three hours of time not cleaning, I didn’t let too much time pass before getting on with what I wanted to do. So, as Norie cleaned for three hours, I sat on my couch preparing my lesson for church today. In addition to teaching the girls on Wednesday about makeup and such, it was my turn to teach them at church as well.

clean apartment

So nice and clean! Now if the rest of my stuff could just arrive…

Can I just say that I am now convinced that there is no better way to start a Saturday than having someone else clean your house while you focus for three hours on the things that matter most? I read scriptures and watched videos (my favorite being one about this one) and listened to talks about the Savior. It was pretty much the best money I’ve spent in a long time. And it was exactly what I needed; a clean apartment and a clear, focused mind.


It was then time to get outside and enjoy an incredibly beautiful (almost) spring day. And what better way to do it than to go for a bike ride…which I needed to do because I had to go pick up my bicycle from my old apartment. (I’d left it there when I’d moved because it wouldn’t fit into my friend’s car with all of my things and it was too cold to ride.) And Saturday was a perfect day for a bike ride. It was warm and sunny and the air just smelled like spring. I was clearly not made for winter.

I had plans to get out to IKEA to pick up a few things I didn’t buy in the states, but as I started out on my way home, those plans just didn’t seem that important anymore. I had been rushing so much during the week (and the weeks before) that taking as much time as I wanted to stop and smell the flowers (literally) on my way was a luxury I did not want to pass up. And that bike ride confirmed to me that I had made the right decision to not miss Tokyo in the spring.


plum blossoms just outside my apartment building


cherry blossoms (or ‘sakura’ in Japanese) down a little alley on my route from Roppongi to Nishishinjuku


And then Saturday night my dear friend Jennifer (one of my favorite people here!) hosted a little dinner party (or in my case, dessert party) at her home in celebration of her new waffle iron recently arrived from the states. Any reason to throw a party is a good one…but fun things from the U.S. might be the best one when living overseas! Such a fun evening. No rush. No stress. Just good food and fantastic friends.

And finally today. I love Sundays, but today was a particularly good one. And while I have no idea how well my lesson went (it’s hard to tell when you’re teaching teenagers), I made it through it and was able to get the girls to share a little. And I was able to share a little bit of myself with them. And after church, I got to do a little singing as I prepped to sing in church next Sunday. Something I’ve been promising myself I would do for a very long time.

Definitely still needs a little work, but I’ve got a week…and I’m making someone else sing with me (she just wasn’t able to stay after today to practice). I’m not quite ready to solo but oh how I do love to sing. This makes me miss my college (and high school, for that matter) singing days a lot. Maybe I’ll have to add voice lessons onto the list of “things to do while in Japan”. You know, squeeze it in between work, church, travel, socializing, ikebana classes (which I’m starting again next Saturday), learning to play the guitar, and just normal life stuff. Why not, right? I mean, clearly last week is an indication that I can take more on…