Michelene is a small business owner who does consulting/negotiating with managed-care companies on behalf of medical facilities. She has a bachelor's in Business Administration from Hardin-Simmons University and is an ACE-certified personal trainer.
She tries to balance her job, marriage, three teenagers, one dog and two cats all while maintaining a more than 90-pound weight loss. Michelene blogs about the trials and tribulations of weight management in the midst of a chaotic life and wants to encourage others who are afraid they can't maintain a healthy lifestyle.
In 2011, she completed her first half marathon, her first mud run, and more than a dozen races total. She is a foodie, a self-proclaimed movie critic, and fitness enthusiast. Her biggest challenge in 2011 has been maintaining her weight loss while undergoing and recovering from a major shoulder surgery.
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In 2008, Jim Carrey starred in a movie called Yes Man, and I’ve grown to love the idea behind the movie. His character makes a covenant to stop being a ''No Man'' and vows to answer ''Yes!'' to every opportunity, request or invitation that presents itself. Not too long ago, I was presented with an opportunity to reconsider what would have initially been a ''NO way!'' for me when my daughter asked me to participate in a race with her. If you’ve read my blogs, you know I’ve done 24 races since I joined SparkPeople. So why would I be saying ''no way''?
I’m trying to pass the healthy lifestyle journey onto my kids, and my youngest, Rachael, has become my race buddy. She completed the Hell Run and found that she actually loved jumping over fire, treading through streams and wading through mud. She actually prefers these types of races to the standard 5k’s that we’ve been doing. She brought up an event called The Rat Race, which is scheduled for October 20th in Dallas. It’s an Urban Adventure Race beyond what we have tried so far. The catch for me was one tiny word--repelling. I am seriously afraid of heights. I remember flying with my daughter when she was very little. It was a turbulent ride and I was trying not to show the fear that I was feeling. We hit a big air pocket, had a small drop, and she looked at me with the biggest smile and said ''don’t you just love the way that makes your stomach feel when it drops?'' It was at that moment that I realized she might be an alien baby because I never would have thought that!
Posted 5/31/2012 6:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 50 comments 18,674 views
Do you ever find yourself wondering why you should keep trying? Are you considering giving up because your progress is slow or nonexistent? I'm specifically talking about continuing to get and stay healthy, but the thoughts I am sharing could also be used in other areas of your life.
Getting out of a rut can be hard work. You get tired of fighting to change yourself or the ''thing'' in your life that needs changing, and you just want to lay down in the rut and give up. Accepting "what is" becomes easier than struggling to get to "what could be." The vision or dream becomes lost in the midst of everyday life.
I’ve seen hundreds of posts during my time on SparkPeople where people ask variations of the same question: "Why should I keep trying?" Hope has faded and they’ve lost their way momentarily. We all go through that. How do you gather the energy to suit up and get back in the game? Why should you? One of the things that has kept me pushing forward is the opportunity to experience more in life. When I was heavier, it took all of my energy to get through the general tasks of each day. There wasn’t anything left for finding the "what could be" in my life.
Posted 5/24/2012 6:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 48 comments 25,823 views
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 : 118 comments 23,786 views
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 : 50 comments 23,532 views
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 15,675 views
You are a unique individual with something to add to this world! If you’re reading this and feeling badly about yourself and where you are this week in your healthy lifestyle journey, then this article is for you. I want to share with you some of the songs on my running playlist that motivate me to remember that I can do this, and in so doing, I hope that they motivate someone reading this to keep on going. You are worth the effort! Click on the orange links to go to YouTube to hear the specific songs with the words that speak to you.
I’m writing this for the beaten down who need to find their strength to rock the world. I’m not afraid anymore to be the unique person that I am and to go out and stake my claim for a healthy life. I’m going all out to reach my goals and would like to see you do the same. I’m at a place now where I have no doubt that I can reach those goals. I didn’t start out that way, but staying faithful to the small steps advocated by SparkGuy Chris day in and day out has taught me that I can do this.
Posted 4/26/2012 6:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 51 comments 26,622 views
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 23,386 views
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 13,301 views
How hard do you work out? Are you one of those people who gives it all you’ve got, or ''leaves it all on the field,'' as the saying goes? I know there are times when I’m like that. I meet with my trainer, get a new workout plan and go set the plan into action. I typically know how many times a week I’m going to lift weights, when my races are scheduled for the next month, when I need to take a day off, etc. I love to research new exercises, try new classes, and make fitness a routine and consistent part of my life. I’m very aware of whether or not I’m meeting my fitness minutes goal for the month on SparkPeople. That’s all good, right?
I know many times we think that, but I saw something on the internet recently that put things into a better perspective for me. Unfortunately, I can't remember where I read it now, but the author said that we work out 60 minutes a day (1 hour) and then have to make food decisions for 15 hours, leaving 8 hours for sleeping. If you’re not making good food choices for many of those hours, how can you expect that 1 hour to compensate and move you in the right direction?
Posted 4/5/2012 6:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 53 comments 21,832 views
I was so stunned by something I recently read in a magazine, that I decided I just had to write about it. I sat and pondered the opposing viewpoints for several days, because one of them left me speechless. I’m a writer and am seldom speechless. I wonder when you get to the end whose decision you would support, and whose life would you like to model yours after.
In this magazine was a letter to the editor from a person named J.J. This person wrote: “I lost barely one and a half pounds, and except for our Thanksgiving meal, I wasted a whole week eating clean. From now on, I’m going to eat the junk foods I truly love – and I’ll enjoy life even if I’m considered an outcast by my ignorant neighbors”.
A little back story – I’ve gone through three Thanksgivings now on my healthy lifestyle journey. Two of those were on the weight loss side, and one was on the maintenance side. If I ever made it through the week of Thanksgiving close to maintaining or even losing a little, I would check that off as a success. My best friend and I spent the last two Thanksgivings running the Turkey Trot with 19,000 of our closest friends before eating the meal. That is definitely a change for us. So I was surprised by J.J.’s attitude that her loss was no good.
Posted 3/29/2012 6:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 191 comments 27,450 views
Have you ever seen an episode of StarGate? The series is no longer being produced, but a few years ago, I watched it faithfully. Yes, I am a Sci-Fi geek! In the show, the people had a ''StarGate'' that they could step through and travel to another planet within a matter of minutes. They were explorers traveling from earth to various locations in the universe. Periodically – okay, in most episodes – they would stumble across bad guys intent on destroying life as we know it and they would have to protect the earth or face certain disaster. On a few occasions, they would write themselves notes telling them not to go to Planet XYZ and throw it back into the Star Gate to their past self. The past self could then decide the note was a warning and take Planet XYZ off the gate system so no one would ever travel there, thereby averting the disaster in the first place. They would then go on their merry way exploring other new worlds.
Can you imagine what it would be like if we had the power to send ourselves a note into the past? When I thought about this I knew exactly where in my past I would have sent it and what I would have said. When I was in high school I swam for two teams (school and city league), but after my senior year I just stopped. The junior college I started out at didn’t have a team. I quickly gained the freshman 15-20lbs. That started the yo-yo cycle that became a substantial part of my adult life. It progressed from the 15-20 all the way up to the 90-100 lb mark.
Posted 3/22/2012 6:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 58 comments 26,362 views
Have you ever seen some of the old Seinfeld episodes with The Soup Nazi? He has a small soup kitchen/diner on the show, and very strict rules about how you get your food. You must enter in a certain line, refrain from speaking, ask no questions, order correctly, slide over and pay, pick up your soup, and leave. If you fail at any of the steps, he grabs your order and yells ''No Soup For You!'' and you have to leave, hoping that sooner rather than later, you’ll be back in his good graces and allowed to enter the diner to try one more time to get your soup.
The longer I am able to maintain my weight loss, the more successful I am with exorcising the food police mentality from my life. I’m not quite sure when any of us learned the thought process that if we eat something that we deem ''unhealthy'', we should just give up for the remainder of the day. I know my parents didn’t teach me that. Can you picture how it would be if our parents had treated us the way we treat ourselves as grownups? It would have gone something like this:
Mom to Jane: ''I saw how much chocolate cake you ate at that birthday party! You should be ashamed of yourself! Since you messed up like that, you cannot have any healthy food for dinner. Here’s a bag of Cheetos and a quart of ice cream. In the morning, I’m going to rehash this again and make you feel guilty about it, and then feed you nachos for breakfast. Heck, now that I think about it, I don’t know how long I’ll hold this over your head. You better go get the fat jeans out of your closet!''
Posted 3/15/2012 6:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 62 comments 17,690 views
We’ve all got those certain family members who pull us down instead of lift us up. You know the ones: they just don’t have our best interests at heart and, in the end, keep us from ever realizing our full potential. They're always there at a moment’s notice to provide the opportunity to keep us in our own little mediocre comfort zone with no accountability. They step in with the discouraging word, and the pessimism about our ability to get healthy. Criticizing how we eat, how we work out, and what we're trying to change.
Now before you all post about the husband, the child, the mom, the dad, etc. etc. till the sun goes down, maybe you should read a little more. The family members I’m talking about are part of a terrible trio of doom and disaster that hold you back—and they are all in your family because you let them be there. So did I for a long time; I sometimes still let them visit.
So who are they? I’ve dubbed them the nasty triplets – Shoulda, Coulda, and Woulda. How many times have we said, I should have eaten better today? I would have gone to the gym today except XYZ came up at the office and I was tired. I could have cooked a cheap, healthy dinner instead of eating at the burger place, but it smelled so good when I was driving by that I just had to have it. The list could go on and on with the triplets making up all kinds of excuses not to live the healthy life. They never run out of ideas on how to give you what you need to excuse your life away.
It’s time to give the nasty triplets an eviction notice!
Posted 3/8/2012 6:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 69 comments 15,780 views
There is a quote I like that has made a big impact on my healthy lifestyle journey: ''We’re all just one small adjustment away from making our lives work!''--Tosca Reno. Think about that for a moment.
I have been at this journey for three years now. Along the way, I have had to constantly remind myself that big progress can be made over time with small adjustments and continuous effort. It’s the over time part that is hard for us to grasp sometimes. It's easy to get stuck in that ''all or nothing'' mentality, where we will want to give up if we don't see fast results on the scale. So here is a physical example of what I mean by small changes over time making an impact:
Posted 3/1/2012 6:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 52 comments 10,643 views
The informal definition of judge is to form an opinion or evaluation, or to act or decide as a judge. Why is this on my bad word for the day list? I’m tired of people judging, including myself as always, because when we judge we’re forming an opinion with very little evidence to go on. Case in point at the gym recently:
Last year I was a regular at a Zumba class at my gym. I loved and still love Zumba, but I had to take a long break due to shoulder surgery. There was a woman in this class at the time, who just like me, was working on getting healthy, toning up, and losing weight. (Notice how I put losing weight after getting healthy?) Anyone at the time could have judged us both as overweight, and in my case, slightly uncoordinated at dancing.
Now fast forward to last night – I was at the gym doing my leg weights as assigned by Mr. Squat Police, my demanding yet gentle trainer. I was using the Roman Chair that I fondly refer to as the chair of torture, which happened to be right in front of the glass window to the aerobics room. Zumba class was in session, and guess who is teaching? You guessed it, the lady I talked about above. Weight down, toned up, and instructing others on how to have some fun while burning calories. You should have seen how happy she was to be teaching. I actually crept into the back of her class for a little more than 10 minutes just to dance and enjoy the experience. Her enthusiasm made me genuinely happy.
Posted 2/16/2012 6:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 95 comments 19,380 views