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 Here are a few of my proudest moments:

  • I developed confidence in the gym and began a regular exercise program. In late October 2010, I started working one-on-one with personal trainer Shane Kinney. We started with the TRX and focused on building strength through circuit training. Much of my exercises were corrective, helping straighten my “computer back” and shoulders, for example, and improving coordination and core strength through full-body movements. I really started to like lifting weights, and exercises I’d normally avoid became my favorite moves to complete. If I lifted weights in the past, they would be light, maybe 2- to 5-pound dumbbells, or I’d only use the weight machines. With Shane, I went from swinging a 15-pound kettlebell 12 times in a row to swinging a 45-pound kettlebell 20 times in a row. I was stronger than I thought, and having someone believe in me and challenge me only motivated me more. When Shane started leading Boot Camp at Life Time Fitness in October 2011, I signed up for the three-sessions-per-week group, in which I work out alongside a triathlete and a former enlisted Marine. It’s a fantastic group of athletes and hugely inspirational for me. Every time we complete a circuit, I come away with a bit of shock and awe — did I really just do that? I’m so distant now from the woman that once thought she was weak.
  • I stopped drinking diet soda and most soda altogether. Those who regularly read Experience Life or visit our Web site know the research on diet soda, and soda in general, so I won’t go on a rant (but if you want the truth, see Pilar’s list). Our purpose is not to make you feel bad about the habit, only to educate. I drank a can of diet soda — sometimes two cans — every single day from 15 to 29 years old. I had no idea what was in it, what it did to my body — and maybe I didn’t want to know. Last spring, I had my last diet soda. Knowing what I know now, and how, even though it was “sugar-free,” it was still tricking my body into craving more/real sugar (hence my cupcake habit), I can no longer drink it. I switched to sparkling water instead and haven’t looked back. Occasionally I’ll have an Izze Sparkling Juice or naturally flavored craft root beer, but they still pack a sweet punch — a basic taste that I’m now much happier to enjoy in just a few sips.
  • I lost 24 pounds! Over the length of 12 months, it doesn’t seem like much, but it’s a good start. And from October to December, I lost 11 of those 24 pounds. I credit several factors: Boot Camp and regular exercise; more adherence to my meal plan, which I started following earlier in the year; participation in the Handel Group’s Dream Body teleseminar, for extra accountability and to get my mind on board with my diet; and the successful execution of a pesky parasite and bacterial infection. How on earth did I get a parasite? Beats me. I haven’t traveled to any third world countries. We went to Europe in 2008. Mexico in 2006, although we stayed at the resort the entire time. But there are other ways to get parasites domestically. Animals and other people can pass parasites; Ladybird frequently suffered from giardia in the spring and fall. Undercooked meat and improperly washed fruits and veggies can also be carriers. And I did, unfortunately, order Chinese takeout from one restaurant on an almost weekly basis for more than a year, only to discover about eight months after we stopped eating there that it was nearly shut down by the state department of health. I can’t make a clear case, but I blame the roaches. None of my doctors could pinpoint the origin, but after a round of antibiotics and rebuilding my good bacteria with probiotics, I began feeling much better. And I easily dropped six pounds in October when I struggled to drop even 2 in previous months, even with all the changes I made. (For more on parasites, read “Little Bugs, Big Trouble.”)

Those were just a few of my major highlights, and I know there’s more good things to come in 2012.

Thoughts to share?

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