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I’m a mess. It’s January 30th, and I’m standing on frozen White Bear
Lake with my husband, Kyle, and his friends, who are about to jump into
the frigid water for the Special Olympics’ Polar Plunge. But I can’t
jump — not because I’m afraid (although I’m not expecting to like
jumping into a frozen lake), but because I’ve been fighting a horrible
cold for two weeks and I’m positive this will just exacerbate my
condition. And when it comes to a head-and-chest cold, especially when
it strikes during a dark and cloudy Minnesota winter, the faster one
can heal, the better.

I registered for this fundraising dip into arctic waters with
the full intention to dive right in as a celebration of my husband’s
30th birthday. But as I watch the plungers line up, myself now a
coughing and sniffling bystander, I realize this persistent illness
symbolizes the damage I’ve done to myself over the past three years:
overworked, overextended, overweight. Since my wedding in 2006, when I
was at what I now conclude as my “happy weight,” I’ve gained 65 pounds.

Although that’s the most daunting and obvious side effect of
my unchecked lifestyle, it’s not the only aspect that troubles me: my
home never feels clean, the chores seeming endless and unmanageable —
organization, something I pride myself on at work, is lacking in my
home office and closets; my dog, a quirky basenji named Ladybird, can
be a terror, naughty because her mom doesn’t walk her or train her
consistently; my workouts are sparse, maybe once or twice a month over
the past few years; and my diet is crap — too much fast food, fried
and comfort food at restaurants and for take-out, diet sodas daily,
lack of fresh fruits and vegetables, and, yes, too much alcohol.

woman eating corndog

Me, enjoying a corn dog at the Minnesota State Fair, September 2008.

Why am I telling you this? Why be so honest about my
indiscretions? Because I don’t think I’m alone. I’m an intelligent
woman with a blossoming career and a happy, loving marriage and
wonderful support system. But I, like many, have misplaced my
priorities. I’ve let work rule my life, I’ve let stress take me down,
and I’ve let easy yet poor food choices dominate my diet — for all of
which I am responsible. I’m sharing this with you, dear readers of my
blog, because I feel that these problems, sadly, have become universal
in America today.

Since I joined the Experience Life team in January,
I’ve discovered a plethora of information and resources to help me
change my ways. Nutrition questions? Ask senior editor Anjula Razdan.
Fitness challenges? Senior editor Jen Sinkler
can help. While poring through health studies for fact-checking our
stories, I have learned things that shocked and surprised me —
information that has already prompted changes in my lifestyle. I’ll be
using the advice in the magazine, as well as the upcoming Take Action Challenge, to institute a lasting impact, one you’ll be able to read about here in Coming Clean.

I know that I can take control of this downward spiral and I
believe wholeheartedly that I can choose to clean up my act. I
challenge you to follow me and do the same.

Thoughts to share?

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