All Entries For Motivational

My List of Give Ups

Back in January of 2011, I wrote a blog on my SparkPage that ended up being voted a popular blog.  As I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my journey from morbidly obese to healthy, I wanted to share a little bit more about my growing list of "Give Ups.''  Here is an excerpt from last January's blog:

''I was sitting in my imaginary beach chair looking out at my pretend ocean and contemplating life, when I thought about my list of give ups this morning.

Really, this thought stems from a conversation I had a number of months ago with a work colleague. I was routinely giving him friendly harassment about improving his eating habits. I would leave sticky notes on his can of Dr. Pepper and note how many teaspoons of sugar were in it. Yeah, I was bad like that.
Posted 5/17/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 116 comments   21,182 views
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The Three Pounds that Control Me

Are you obsessing about a certain number on the scale?  Are you depressed when you don’t see the number you want?  I’m focusing all my attention and effort on about three pounds right now.

If you’ve read any of my blogs like Scale Haters Unite! or Pointing Fingers and Calling Names, you know that I’m typically not in favor of focusing on a number.  Why would I be totally obsessed about roughly three pounds right now?  Why would I be dwelling on it throughout the day and now writing a blog about it?

Our brain weighs about three pounds and it controls every single move we make, and every thought we have.  My brain determines whether I am filled with encouragement, optimism, and commitment, or whether I am drowning in pessimism, doubt and discouragement.  The choice is mine and mine alone.  One way of thinking will help me reach my goals, and another way of thinking will guarantee my failure.  So my scale is still in the bathroom corner, neglected and currently weighing dust particles, while I turn my attention to filling my brain with the things that will help me have a positive outcome in my healthy lifestyle routine.
Posted 5/10/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 49 comments   18,154 views
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The Buck Stops Here

''The buck stops here'': many of us have heard this phrase in our lifetime. It basically means that YOU assume responsibility for your actions.

President Truman was known to make reference to this phrase from time to time. At the National War College on December 19, 1952, Mr. Truman said, ''You know, it's easy for the Monday morning quarterback to say what the coach should have done after the game is over. But when the decision is up before you--and on my desk I have a motto which says, ''The buck stops here''--the decision has to be made.''

The decision has to be made, but have you really made the decision?  The decision to take your life back?  The decision to stop passing the buck to somebody else or some circumstance and take ownership of that decision?

Sometimes, as we move through life, we tend to pass the buck in order to make it easier on us, right?  There are times in our work lives that we pass the buck to our co-workers.  Other times, maybe we pass the buck to our spouse for whatever reason.  Why do we do that? When a decision has to be made, make it and go forward with that decision. The buck stops here, with you!
Posted 5/7/2012  10:00:00 PM By: Jerome Merlau : 18 comments   10,219 views
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Don't Stop Dreaming

When you were a kid, what was one of your favorite things to do?

For me and the kids in my neighborhood it was DREAMING. We used to pretend or dream about what we wanted to do when we grew up. We had big dreams back then, that’s certain. Some of the dreams included things like:

I want to travel the world

I want to be a doctor

I want to work at Sea World

I want to travel in outer space

And my personal favorite was: I want to be in a rock band.

Oh, the dreams we had a kids. Yes, I wanted to be in a rock band (going to space was a close second though).  I even remember myself and three of my friends in my small town dressing up like KISS. It wasn’t Halloween. It was a DREAM and we were doing what we could to following that dream. We had costumes, make-up, pretend microphones, wigs, everything. There are pictures, somewhere. It was SO easy to dream as a child, right? There was no hesitation in our ambitions.  We just went for it.  Whether it was jumping a ramp on my bike with 15 bricks stacked high or pretending to be Ace Freely.
Posted 5/3/2012  10:00:00 PM By: Jerome Merlau : 41 comments   12,744 views
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Operation Fit To Fight

There are certain moments in your life that you will always remember because they leave such a deep imprint.  I had one of those moments over the course of an intense, physically demanding weekend a few months ago.  I was a participant in a three day Personal Trainer workshop. Part of that workshop included a class called ''Operation Fit to Fight'', created and instructed by Staff Sergeant Ken Weichert.  He proved to be a source of inspiration that I will remember for the rest of my life.

When Ken was a senior in high school, he had what most young men would dream about.  He was a key player on the football team, and was being recruited by colleges nationwide.  However, during one tragic play, he was badly injured. Doctors told him he would probably never walk again—but he proved them wrong.  Not only did he go on to walk, but he is now a six-time ''Soldier of the Year'' recipient, a Veteran of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Desert Storm, and has spent the last 20 years ensuring that National Guard Soldiers are ''fit to fight''. His mission was inspired by these sobering statistics:  18% of men and 43% of women of recruiting age are too overweight to be eligible for military service of any type, in any branch, and 3,000 troops were discharged in 2003 alone because of excess weight.   Ken and his wife, Stephanie (also a certified personal trainer) founded the START Fitness program in San Francisco, and now also operate in Nashville, with the mission to help recruits and service men and women all around the globe to become fit enough to serve their country. Ken's story inspired me so much, and I came out of his class a changed person.
Posted 5/3/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 17 comments   12,560 views
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Are You Ready for the Battle?

Have you ever seen any of the X-Men movies? During an action-packed scene in the latest movie, the Captain of a naval vessel shouted out a line that really spoke to me. As things heightened to a climax in the standoff he turned and yelled to someone else in the room, ''Gun Boss, prepare to fire!'' Why on earth would that ''speak'' to me, you wonder?

For almost four years, I have been personally engaged in a battle to fight my way healthy from a state of morbid obesity. I embrace the idea of having lots of weapons at my disposal to aid me in the battle. (I mean no offense to anyone by using a military example of a battle. It’s just something that is very clear to me in my mind.) What if that Gun Boss had been unprepared to engage in the battle?  What if he had forgotten to load the missiles onto the ship when it was in harbor?  What if he had failed to prepare his staff to know how to maintain them, and load them when the time came?  That crew wouldn’t have stood a chance to defend themselves. There wasn’t time in that moment to go back and do any of those things.  Either he was ready or he was going to lose. 

The position of Gun Boss was critical in that scenario, and it reminds me that I am in a similar position in my own struggle to health.  If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you’ll know that I consider preparedness to be critical to success. Using all that is available to us to be prepared in that moment when you need to be your own Gun Boss. What can you do to be prepared on a day to day basis to fight the battle against the bulge?
Posted 4/19/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 36 comments   19,828 views
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Greener on the Other Side

''Yikes! It is hard to believe, huh?! We lived through it and didn't realize how bad it was until we were on this side of it.''

That is an exact quote from my wife about the pictures you see.

I’m not sure if it’s funny or sad that sometimes we are so busy with life that we fail to pay attention to ourselves. Isn’t that how it works most of the time? I know the women would agree with me, but what about the men out there? How many men out there are so caught up in their career or caught up in other activities that they don’t’ even realize what has happened to their bodies?

Maybe it’s not even our schedules that allow us to let ourselves go. Sometimes it’s nothing more than the fact that we get comfortable with ourselves and don’t even realize what’s happening to our shapes--and, more importantly, what’s happening to our health.
Posted 4/16/2012  10:00:00 PM By: Jerome Merlau : 24 comments   6,328 views
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My Goal to be M.I.A.

Usually being M.I.A. (missing in action) is a bad thing, but this acronym has come to mean something different to me. I hope that by the end of this blog, you’ll adopt a similar mindset for yourself this week and use it to shape your healthy lifestyle goals going forward.  So what do I mean by ''going M.I.A.''? 

I read an excellent article called ''Mindful Mountaineer'' in Experience Life magazine recently. In it, author Jocelyn Stone talks about a man named Matt Walker, who conquered mountains on every continent, earned a master’s degree, and launched his own company before reaching the age of 40, and then wrote a book about his experiences. When I hear about people like this, I always wonder, ''What it is that they have that gets them this kind of success?  I want some!"

In the article, Matt mentions one of the biggest keys to his successes-- ''to be MINDFUL and INTENTIONAL in all your ACTIONS." Could it really all boil down to that? Three simple words that can change the outcome of your success, consolidated into one short acronym?  It struck a chord with me because when I am mindful and intentional with my food choices and workouts (my actions), things fall into place and I feel better.  When I’m not intentional, I end up missing workouts for something else I consider more urgent at the time, or eating something less than healthy because I didn’t have a better option on hand. 
Posted 4/12/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 35 comments   12,005 views
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How to Lose Weight Even If You Feel Hopeless

I’ve gotten a lot of SparkMail asking about how I got started on my weight-loss journey and how I’ve come to lose so much weight without surgery. I've been reflecting a lot lately about what got me started and how I've stayed on track for so long.
First of all, I read a book called ''You on a Diet'' by Dr. Oz and it was a life-changer about how to trick your body into not being hungry. Then, I got on SparkPeople and kept up with SparkStreaks- a series of days of consistently doing something easy, but good for you. When each new behavior became natural, I took on a new one. I started out with standing instead of sitting for one minute a day, which eventually turned into moving for 10 minutes total per day. I also used SparkStreaks for my nutritional goals, which helped me stay consistent and on track with my eating.
Posted 4/6/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Beth Donovan : 121 comments   38,079 views
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An Amazing SparkPeople Weekend Extravaganza

Last year I had the honor of traveling to Pittsburgh to participate in the 11th Annual Just a Short Run event in a suburb just outside of the city. This SparkPeople tradition was started two years earlier when Bob (BobbyD31) and Anne (MIAMIA7) Dawson invited SparkFriends from the Pennsylvania and Ohio area to run/walk in this fabulous event which offers a 5K, 8.1 miler, half-marathon and a 30K--a distance for every runner and walker alike. It was such a success that year, the team decided to make this an annual event. This is the 3rd year now and with each passing year more and more SparkPeople members have made the pilgramage to Pittsburgh to share in a weekend of pure SparkFun!

Talking with Bob on Friday night at the dinner our magnificent SparkPeople members put together, it was evident that this has become more than just a meet-up, it has become a tradition. Growing from 12 participants in 2010 to over 60 plus members this year it is one event I will not miss. With over 13 states and 5 provinces in Canada represented, it has grown from a homegrown tradition, to one that embodies the true SparkSpirit of friendship, support and living our lives as an adventure.
Posted 4/3/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Nancy Howard : 61 comments   10,107 views
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Living My Life as an Adventure

On March 18th I had the honor and privilege to run the New York Road Runners New York City Half-Marathon along with 15,000 other runners from across the globe.  The elite field consisted of United States Olympic hopefuls, Meb Keflezighi, Desiree Davila, Kara Goucher and Dathan Ritzenhein, in addition to some of the world's best runners including New Zealand's Kim Smith, Kenya's Caroline Rotich winner of last year's NYRR NYC Half, as well as Kenya’s Peter Kirui and 2011 ING NYC Marathon winner Ethiopia’s Firehiwot Dado.

It was truly one of those life defining moments to run through Central Park, down 7th Avenue, to 42nd Street and down the West Side Highway, along the Hudson River before crossing the finish line at the South Street Seaport with thousands of spectators lining the course and cheering the runners on stride for stride.
Posted 3/27/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Nancy Howard : 27 comments   9,090 views
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Maybe It's Time to Change

In a few short days I will be traveling to the Big Apple (AKA New York City) to run in the NYC Half Marathon. When I took up running six years ago I had no clue where this journey would take me. It was and has always been a dream of mine to run the streets of New York City. And I am truly blessed to have this opportunity to lace up my running shoes, sport my running attire and fulfill my dream of running around  Central Park, down 7th Avenue, pass Times Square, then along the West Side Highway until I reach the finish line at the South Street Seaport.

In my two years of destination runs, this will be the first run that I will be running without my fellow SparkRunners. When this journey of destination runs began in New Orleans in February 2010 with over twenty SparkPeople members, never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined the incredible opportunity this would give me. To have the honor to meet other SparkPeople runners from across the country--from Seattle, to Chicago, to Pittsburgh, to Portland, to San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, even Victoria, British Columbia, is truly a blessing. This will be the first time in a very long time I will be lining up on the start line without my fellow runners to meet me at the finish line.  

In preparation for my training runs,  I asked my fellow runners to share with me their favorite running tunes so that I could make a play list to train with. While I will not be racing with music in New York, I do find training with music helps me get past the tough times when I just don't have it in me to take on that hill or that next mile.
Posted 3/13/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Nancy Howard : 47 comments   10,750 views
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You Have a Purpose in This World

You may be asking yourself what my journey of finding one hundred dollars has to do with your own journey to becoming the healthy individual you are meant to be. But I do believe there are lessons to be learned in any situation we find ourselves in and this is my story.

As with any journey we embark on, it always has a starting point. Sometimes it is a journey that we plan for and sometimes it is one that just happens to us spontaneously. But regardless as to how your own journey began, whether you embarked on it for health reasons or just plain tiredness of being overweight and unfit, no one is guaranteed a ride without obstacles.

First, I would like to give you a little background on my journey to $100. It all began on a hot August summer morning back in 2007. I had gone out for a run with my running coach and fellow runners when I saw a tarnished penny in the road. Never being one to walk, or for that matter, run away from any coins, I quickly backtracked to where the small penny was, picked it up and put it in my pocket. Everyone, including my coach laughed at me as I raced to catch up with them. But in my defense, I told them I was going to go home, put that penny in a jar and see how long it would take me to reach $100. I was going to show them that every coin no matter how big or how small matters . From that point on every coin that I found on my life's journey found its rightful place right  alongside my very first coin.

It took quite a while for my jar of coins to show some substance, but over time I slowly filled up one jar before I had to move up to the next size just three short years later. Each coin had a purpose, just like each one of us has a purpose in life. Each coin, each bill that I found has value, jus like each of us has value. Each of us has a purpose. It does not matter your size or weight you are today or in the future, just know that you matter--you have value.

On Sunday, February 19th I was about a third of the way into my 10 mile run, when I reached a pinnacle in my journey that started over 4 1/2 years earlier. I knew that I was getting close even before I took my first step that day, but I never went out for a run expecting that today would be the day. I would accept whatever came my way. This day was unlike many of my other running days. I generally do not run on Sundays, but because of the rain the day before I had to run my long run that day. Ironically of all days, I chose to run down a road that I have never gone down before. I am not too sure why I chose that route, except that I was looking for a change of scenery.  It felt right. Just as I was heading out of the cul-de-sac I glanced about 10 feet in front of me, and there I spotted three pennies waiting to be picked up. These three pennies, along with the four I had found in the earlier part of my run allowed me to reach that $100 mark. 
Posted 2/21/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Nancy Howard : 71 comments   15,600 views
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The Butterfly Effect

Have you heard of the ''Butterfly Effect''? In 1963, a man named Mr. Lorenz had a theory that was fairly simple and was laughed at by many colleagues.  His theory stated that a butterfly could flap its wings in Texas and, as a result, air molecules would be moved.  Those air molecules would cause other molecules of air to move, maybe in Tennessee, then in Florida, and eventually moving enough molecules that it would be possible for a violent storm to form on the other side of the planet.  This theory was proven true in the 1990’s, and not just with molecules of air. I feel that this principle relates in a lot of ways to the formation of SparkPeople.

While SparkPeople's CEO, Chris Downie, was working at P&G, he knew there was something more for him.  He already had passion for his health and he put a plan into action.  Soon enough, SparkPeople was born and his dream became a reality to ''spark'' others into better health.  You see, Chris spread his wings and moved a few molecules in the universe, and those molecules are still moving.

That is the beautiful thing about the Butterfly Effect.  Chris started SparkPeople because of his passion for health and helping others.  He put the word out about a new weight loss website; others heard about it and joined.  Those new members had success and enjoyed the site, so they told their friends and family about SparkPeople, which lead to another person, which led to the guy I heard about SparkPeople from, which lead to my own wellness and this very blog that you are now reading.  That is absolutely amazing when you really think about it.
Posted 2/20/2012  10:00:00 PM By: Jerome Merlau : 27 comments   8,800 views
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Be Courageous

''Take courage'' is one of my favorite phrases from the Bible and I believe it can change a person’s life.

It takes courage for us to function in our daily lives.  Some of us need more courage than others sometimes, and that’s okay.  Some of us are so courageous that we believe we can conquer the world single-handedly.  Others, such as the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz, ask somebody else to give them courage, not knowing that it comes from within.

What exactly does courage mean anyway?  According to the dictionary, it is ''the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.'' 

Those are some rather powerful words, if you ask me! 
As I think about COURAGE, many thoughts come to my mind: brave men and women defending our country and our police and fire protection who serve us daily in our homeland.  What about the moment a person takes the first step to reclaim their health and start a new lifestyle?

Have you ever really thought about what it takes to make a lifestyle change?  You will change the patterns of life that you’ve had possibly for years.  Changing the way you eat, the way you exercise, the amount of water you drink.  Learning how to deal with the obstacles in life in a whole new way will take courage. 
Posted 2/6/2012  10:00:00 PM By: Jerome Merlau : 43 comments   12,290 views
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