Monday, May 10, 2010

Thank you!

December 25th, 2009….reading that date for most people would send memories of this past Christmas and the bliss associated with the holiday.  Maybe thoughts of yummy foods, family surrounding you, traditions passed through the generations.  Perhaps thoughts of a loving Savior who lived and died for each of us or reminders of quiet acts of service rendered through the Christmas season.  But for me – December 25th, 2009 will be a date I both pray to forget, and yet in the same breath pray the lessons will stay with me forever.  This was the day I hope will be known as "rock bottom" in my spiral of depression.

Sadly this horrible experience was on Christmas Day.  I think part of the experience was because it was on Christmas Day.  I mean it was Christmas Day and even on this one day that we had all anticipated so much for so long I couldn't pull myself together enough to look forward and put on a happy face. I think because the day was supposed to be filled with love, happiness, hope and joy – and I literally felt like I was at the bottom and end of my rope just magnified my depressive thoughts and feelings.  I think my hopeless feelings were just that much worse because I felt like I wasn't only letting myself down – but I was literally ruining the holiday for my family and children.  My depression and self-destructive attitude was ruining Christmas – could it get much worse than that?

So as I found myself crumpled in a ball on my closet floor – unable to breathe, unable to stop crying or stop shaking.   I felt true darkness and painful despair.  I felt the walls of my closet closing in and I felt as close to just giving up as I hope I ever feel.  I had prayed, I had begged for the feelings to go away – but at the same time I almost didn't feel like I deserved the pain to go away.  After all I was ruining Christmas for my husband and children – didn't I deserve to feel rotten?  I longed to just end it all – to put all of us out of my misery.

I didn't feel like myself – I felt like there was something else inside of me sucking out any possibility of happiness.  I felt like I was a shell of the person I wanted to be and I felt so, so lost.  It was depression that was literally darkening every part of my life.  I remember up to that time – through the holidays I just wasn't happy.  I remember not wanting to get out of bed, not wanting to deal with Christmas gifts, neighbor goodies or putting things together for my kids.  The idea of coming up with a perfect gift for me to give to my husband seemed like too much to work towards – and I literally gave up.  I was only going through the motions but I wasn't feeling any of the holiday spirit.

I remember lying in bed one day and watching a commercial on tv.  It was a commercial for an antidepressant and the announcer said, "Who does depression hurt?" and then went on to say "Depression hurts but you don't have to." – cue the music, logo for their drug and pictures of people emerging from the pain of depression.  That advertisement was SO applicable to me and I still hear the words echo in my mind, "Depression hurts" – it did and I was suffering from the pain it brought.

So after somehow pulling it together for the rest of the day - the next day out of the blue I said to my husband, "I wonder if I tried training if I could do a ½ marathon this summer?"  That lead me to asking the question out loud on Facebook (and getting an enormous response from SO many people supporting me in it).  It was one of those things where I remember feeling like, "what on earth was I thinking????" just moments after hitting "post" and remembering that "I'm not a runner – I'm not even going to attempt something like that".  My depression kicked back in and I felt not-so-great about it.

Well very shortly after all of that I got an email from a dear, sweet friend of mine – Leslie Groft.  She invited me to possibly workout with her for 5 weeks – for free.  She had just gotten her personal training license and had great results with a program she had done online and she wanted some guinea pigs to workout with for 5 weeks as a trial.  On a whim I asked for one of the spots she had, it worked out, and we planned to start working out as of the first of the year. 

I remember thinking, "Ok – I can handle the idea of adding exercise to my life right now.  But truthfully that is ALL I can do.  I'm not ready to change my eating, not ready to join that *website* Leslie's been a part of.  But I can exercise for an hour a day.  That is ALL I can do though."  The thought of anything else was just too much to wrap my depressed and tired brain around.

So I met with Leslie for the first time as a group – all of us who were going to be "guinea pigs".  She explained the program a bit and started talking a little about food – diet, and the Transformation program.  I still had in the back of my mind "You can ONLY handle changing your exercise.  Get a little exercise in and that will be a good start – that is all you can handle right now!"

But a few moments after that, a little into the presentation she was giving I had something I almost didn't recognize – a glimmer of hope.  Just a glimmer, a slight reminder of someone I used to be.  I had a short tiny reminder of the girl who worked so hard with Weight Watchers a few years back.  I remembered for a moment how much it meant to me when people I loved were also working on getting healthier because of the experiences I had been having and my example. Then I remembered how much I LOVED sharing that part of myself with others.  And then with that glimmer of hope I was reminded of a picture that was me – a VERY happy version of myself.  It was the closest to being comfortable in my skin and body that I had ever been.   But even as I had those feelings I was still saying, "I can only commit to exercising right now – that's all I can handle without freaking out."

Well not long after that (like 24 hours!) I had decided that I was going to revamp my diet – or at least try to.  I still wasn't committing to much more and I certainly wasn't going to do the whole Transformation program.  I wasn't signing up as a Challenger, I wasn't doing assignments or getting online for the community – nope. And I certainly wasn't going to travel to Dallas Texas for a Transformation convention! It took a while and I actually ate all of my words.  I did some assignments, met great friends from the community and even drove to Dallas for the convention!  But I still didn't know where I was going with it…

Fast forward to today – I am officially "done" with the 18 weeks I ended up committing to in the end.  I have eaten clean, changed my way of looking at exercise and begun to believe in myself in areas I NEVER have.  I have ran in races, completed scary workouts (box jumps?!?!) and have lost weight, gained muscle, developed better habits, and fit into new clothes. 

Truthfully I haven't stayed up on the assignments.  I think I have justified that I ended up coming so much further with the program than I had originally planned – that not doing the assignments this round is ok.  In some ways I don't think that was necessarily the best choice – but it's in the past.  But as I got closer to the end I felt like I could have my own challenge again when my 18 weeks was up and I could start fresh with the assignments.  I'm not going to pick up where I left off – I'm starting over at week #1.  I have a plan in place to do at least one assignment each week.  I will have my assignment completed before going to bed on the last day of the week (My weeks will go from Monday morning to Sunday night).  I WILL do them all – I'm committing to that.

For a girl who doesn't set goals – or hasn't in the past this is powerful to me.  Stating it for all of my friends and family to see is powerful and will hold me to my intentions.  I have found strength in that process as I have gone through this journey so far.

Lastly – I just want to say that I know that this works.  I know that my body and mind have changed and will continue to change.  I know that this program has been placed in my life so I can become the girl that my Heavenly Father wants me to be.  I can become the person who I was sent on earth to become and I can be able to better serve my brothers and sisters around me.  I feel that through this process my spirit literally fits better in my body.  I feel more comfortable in my own skin and with my own thoughts. It's not about perfection – as I know I have light-years to keep traveling for that – but this journey is about PROGRESS and now I am seeing that around me every day.  I can now look at myself in the mirror and know that "Depression hurts – but I don't have to anymore!" 

Thank you to those who have supported me, who carry me and who love me no matter who I am. I am grateful for people who gave me time to become ready but loved me anyway.  I am grateful for a husband who is my biggest cheerleader and fan – but most of all I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who has helped me remember why He sent me here, and reminded me that I am worth it.  I am truly, truly grateful.

(I have been thinking about posting my progress pictures - showing how things have changed and progressed for me. They are pictures of me in a 2 piece swimming suit (or sports bra) - so it makes me really nervous.  If I end up posting the picture I am only doing it to show that even someone like ME can have great results - in just 18 weeks! I'm not posting them for any other reason than to hopefully have someone else say "Hey - I can do it too!")


jed-laura said...

I joined the website late- and then didn't do much in the progress of reading up on what I need to be doing. I have added exercise to my life this last month and a half, and it's helped a lot. I'd like to be more serious about the diet stuff as well, and find the time to do the assignments- call me sometime to talk me into it and explain a little better about it :) ok?

Jesse and Ashley Packer said...

You are such an inspiration to me Joanna!!! You have done amazing. I must admit... I am dying to see the before and after pics. I hope you post them :0)

Way to go! You're such an amazing person. Sharing your story will certainly help many going through the same thing. Keep going!!!

Kristi said...

When you posted the Transformation the first time, I was 8 months pregnant, and I really just joined to see what the deal was. It was because of you and seeing what you could do (running.... I know you:) that I am starting to work on a new me as well. Thank you soooo much. You are a great example to me and I am grateful to have a friend and inspiration. Way to go Joanna!!!

Kristi said...

Thank you for sharing your experience, Joanna. Your post resonated with me, particularly right now when I am really trying to make some positive & healthy changes. You are an inspiration! I'm so impressed with your dedication and will-power. I love that you make the spiritual connection. I'm learning that Heavenly Father wants me to be healthy and fit - he cares when I put in my mouth and how I treat my body. He wants us to choose health and happiness. Including him in that journey in the only way to do it.

Again, WOW! Your experiences will bless others - I can feel it over here in my little corner of the world.