All I Want For Christmas

No…I’m not about belt out  a Mariah Carey song! Your ears will thank you!

Apologies for the post coming a day late. The last week has been a whirlwind of emotion and stress and crazy decisions.  But that’s neither here nor there….

Happy Christmakwanzakah to you and yours!

If you’re still shopping around for things to get me (I kid, I kid) there are a few things on my list…

All I Want For Christmas is….

1)   To be closer to my family. – I’ve loved living in Florida. I love what it has meant for my health, for my love, for my worldliness. (Yes…worldliness…if you’ve ever been to Miami, you know what I mean.) What I haven’t loved is the distance between me and my people…My friends…my family…my new family. I miss the impromptu brunches, the holiday celebrations, the birthdays, the Sunday afternoon cookouts. Call me a homebody…call me a wuss…call me whatever you want, but I adore my family in the most amazing way.

I am happy to report that this Christmas wish will be a reality in the next 7 days as we move 8.5 hours north of Tampa. A new start, and new beginning, new jobs, a new home, and much, much closer to the ones we love in a city that both Allen and I adore. Nice going, Mr. Claus!

2)   For Allen to know how much I love him. – I’m not saying that he doesn’t. I’m not saying that I lack affection or act like a frozen hermit crab when we’re together but I have been quite impatient and testy lately. A lot of things had been up in the air with regards to our move and I certainly wasn’t the most peaceful person about it. Allen, as usual, was the ever cool, ever calm, ever collected partner. His stress doesn’t show…his love and his affection, never waivers.

This man has been an incredible gift in my life. One that I will spend the rest of my life cherishing and being in complete and total awe of.  I cannot wait to call him my husband. I cannot wait to be forever bound by the sacrament of marriage.

I am a different person because of the way he is with me. I’m proud of him every day. I proud of the man he is, the woman he makes me, and the life we’ve created together.  He takes my breath away every single day and I am so grateful that he is mine.

My wish is for him to never, for one second, doubt the devotion and the love I feel for him. My best friend…my life partner…my soulmate.

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       Photo courtesy of Hayley Juliet Photography

3)   A new job. – Following my company’s buyout, both Allen and I were laid off in September. Don’t feel pity for us…if it was not for that, we would not be able to complete the number 1 wish on this list. He’s found a amazing opportunity for him to showcase his undeniable skills, but I’m still looking. I’ve had 2 great interviews and hope to know something in the next week or two but nothing solid yet. I want nothing more than to be a financial contributor to my family. Please keep your fingers crossed for good news on the employment front in the near future!

4)   My own food. – We were supposed to move last week…but a few wrenches got thrown in the mix so we got delayed. For some absurd reason, I opted to pack our kitchen stuff first. The pots, the pans, the stuff in the pantry…the fridge was cleaned out and the freezer emptied. All that remains in our culinary mecca is a bulk warehouse sized container of garlic powder, a jar of chow chow, mayo, capers, butter and frozen broccoli. All of which are a little tough to create lunch and dinner out of. So aside from the ham and GF bread we picked up at the store, we’ve been eating out…a lot. Not only is it denting the wallet, but it’s making my insides feel like a war zone. I hate eating out frequently. I hate paying for something that I know I could make 10 times better and 10 times cheaper. I am definitely ready to have my own kitchen again…soon, Han…soon.

5)   For people to stop celeb-obsessing. – Between the Duck Dynasty BS, the Kardashian divorce drama, the McGraw-Hill relationship rumors, Paul Walker’s accident, etc., etc., I am so OVER people posting about it and talking about it and seeing it plastered all over magazines. I can’t stand to watch the news and I despise the entertainment ‘news’ shows for their half-truth speculations. Enough already!

The world has more important problems than the 8 pounds one movie star gained, or the plastic surgery another had, or the divorce filings of the rich and famous. There are starving children, abused animals, crooked politicians…this country has more disgusting, indescribable crimes than a Patricia Cornwell novel. Instead of worrying about making it better for our children and our children’s children, we’re more involved in discussing Miley Cyrus’ twerking or Justin Bieber’s partying habits.  Let’s not indulge these over-paid, under-qualified attention whores and focus on what really matters in the world: our families…our health…the love and well-being of those around us. Let’s take this holiday season to stop fighting about who got the last Xbox or flat-screen TV and take the opportunity to spend time with others instead of playing video games or watching the tube for hours.

Life is short…You will not be remembered for your money, your electronics or your cell phones. You won’t be remembered for your luxury automobiles or your gossip magazines and the ability to spout off the most expensive celebrity divorces in history. You won’t be remembered for your designer purses or your red-soled shoes. Your integrity and your legacy is what matters…you WILL be remembered for your love, your kindness, your way with others and your goodness. Enough with the stuff that doesn’t matter…leave a lasting mark on mankind, and the world will be a better place for it.

6)   For others to pay it forward. – I experienced the rush of this for the first time tonight and it was amazing. Allen and I ate an early dinner (out of course) at a nearby steakhouse chain. About halfway through our meal, I noticed an elderly gentleman (approximately 80-85 years old) who came in alone. He was walking with the assistance of a cane and struggled to keep up with the hostess who was hurriedly ushering him to his seat. When she approached the booth she intended to sit him in, he asked to sit at the back where it was quieter. She obliged and seated him in the back at the very last table.

Seeing him made me sad. I absolutely HATE to see people eating alone. Even if they look like they’re just shooting in for a quick lunch break, I hate seeing it. I feel pain for them even though there may not be any pain involved regarding their reason to be eating by themselves.

Something about this man struck me harder than normal and I’m not sure why.  When I got up to use the restroom, I passed his table and watched him as I approached the hallway next to his table. He looked so at peace…eating his meal and enjoying his beer with a grin on his face. For all I know he could be an escaped serial killer but the sight of him there with no one to chat with pulled at my heartstrings, and I decided to do something I’ve always wanted to do.

I approached my waitress afterwards and told her I wanted to pay for his meal. She grabbed the man’s waiter who looked as if I’d just told him that his whole life had been a lie and his biological father was the lochness monster. Clearly no one had ever requested a total stranger’s tab before. “You want to pay for his dinner?” The waiter said. “Yes, all of it. The entire tab,” I replied. “Uhh…do you know him?” the waiter still seemed totally dumbfounded. “Not at all. I just want to do something nice for a complete stranger” I said as I signed the tab.  As I turned to walk away, the waiter asked me what I wanted him to say when the man asked for his tab. “Just tell him Happy Holidays and to return the favor by doing something nice for an unsuspecting stranger.”

As I walked out of the restaurant, a wave of emotion overcame me. Of all the pointless money I’ve spent on things I don’t need…things that I’ve bought to feel good or make me feel better after a stressful day. All this time I should have been doing this. Please…if nothing else this holiday season, try this. I’m not suggesting that you pay for a man’s steak, but do it somehow…You will feel amazing.

7)   To lose 100 pounds. – Last but not least, for Christmas I’d like to reach the century mark. Despite the eating out and the crazy hustle and bustle, Santa only has to deliver on an additional 1.4 pounds!!

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Under 150…I don’t even know what to say! I must admit, I still struggle daily with my self-image. I see that I’m wearing smaller clothes…I know that my size 8’s are too big and the scale number is dropping. I see the shock when I run into people I haven’t seen in a while, but I don’t see the change in myself. I still see the wide, flabby overweight girl when I look in the mirror. Maybe it’s all the loose skin that has me disillusioned, maybe it’s that I can’t see what’s really in front of me. I logically know there is a change when I think about having lost 98 pounds now…I’m just ready to really see it. Feel it. Believe it.

Maybe I’ll buy myself a pair of size 20 pants…maybe I should get a cardboard cutout of old me (Add that to the list too!)…or maybe I’ll stop acting absurd and focus less on the physical morphing. I’m still the same blonde, crazy, witty, dog-obsessed, pink loving, makeup zealous, sweet, Southern girl I’ve always been…just in a slightly smaller package this year. And you know what they say…good things…the best things…come in small(er) packages.

Wishing you all the merriest of holidays!

Winds of Change

There is change coming….

There is a new chapter beginning….

This once introverted, girl who despised herself is making the journey of a lifetime this week.

In just a few short days, I will be moving to Miami. Far from the NC life I am so used to and so comfortable with… Far from the comfort of my family…Far from familiarity.

But I could not be more excited!  While this relocation is partially due to work, South Florida has also led me to love, and I am taking a leap of faith and following my heart 700 miles south.  I am ready for this incredible new adventure. I am ready to show the world what I’m made of and I am most certainly ready to rock the bathing suit on a more frequent basis.

I have grown so much in the last 14 months. Old Hannah certainly wouldn’t have been able to take on such uncertainty. New Hannah is accepting it with open arms.

Needless to say, my mind still continues to have its own insecurities into how other people view me.  I always wonder whether my own biases and perceptions are ones that other people have.  I question whether I’m doing all of this to prove something to myself or to prove something to the world.

I’ve decided to create a new mantra for myself…create a new creed. In honor of my ‘new chapter’ I’ve created my new rules to live by:

1.  I will not think badly about myself when I look in the mirror. – Magazine images aren’t real. Photoshop has destroyed my perception of beautiful.

This is real…and this is beautiful:

(My god, what’s wrong with me?! I just posted a picture of myself in a bathing suit….if that isn’t change then I don’t know what is!)

 

2. I will not judge someone without recognizing the journey they are on first. – I originally started this blog as a way hold my fat self-accountable…to preach to the world that that just because I’m overweight doesn’t mean I am an awful person or lazy or a failure.  Along the way, I’ve been honored when people tell me that I motivate or inspire them, and I’m humbled to know that I might have put words to their pain, their struggle, or their journey.

 

3.  I will not let someone else’s judgment of me change how I feel about myself.  –  I do it because i can, I can because I want to, I want to because you said I couldn’t.

 

4.  Find the good.-  Consider every day an opportunity to live, laugh, learn and love. While many walk around with the world on their shoulders, choose to be different. Choose to be the exception. Choose fun. Choose to find the lesson. Choose happiness. Choose to be that person.

 

5.  I dictate how I feel about myself, not the scale.  – My weight loss has certainly slowed over the last few weeks…but mentally, I feel better than ever!  It’s about persistence, not perfection.

 

6.  I am on this journey because of the courage I had when I took the first step. – Had it not been for the pudgy girl that found her way along this journey, I wouldn’t be the thinner girl I am today. I owe the world to the 248lb version of Hannah that survived the pain and survived the heartache. She came out strong enough to say, “This is the last time…time to make it happen.” She is my hero.

The next time you hear from me I’ll be in a new place…with new people…and a newfound outlook on life. This euphoria has been 29.92 years in the making…and this happiness isn’t changing anytime soon! This is my time…

Pudge has just about gotten her pink slip….and it feels incredible!

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”   ~ Maria Robinson

If You’re Happy And You Know It Clap Your Hands!

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus the last few weeks. A few trips out of town, furniture market and preparation for my sister’s wedding in a few days had my brain in a million different directions.

After all this travel, I had a frightful reunion with the scale. But I did not fret…I did not panic. I didn’t decide to eat merely a tablespoon of lettuce for the rest of my life or vow to wear a trash bag around the house to sweat out the extra weight. I didn’t do ANY of the things I normally do.

Who is this girl and what the hell did she do with her old self?

I decided to take a deep breath and get back on track. Oddly enough…not stressing got me back on track much, much faster than I expected and even managed to drop some more….

 

 

Reflecting on my newfound reaction to adversity I realized something. I am changed. I am positive. I am happy.

Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it. – Groucho Marx

Happiness is often defined in different ways, which of course creates a fuzzy picture on what happiness actually is. There is no set standard for happiness. There is no specific explanation. I know what happiness is for me….

The sound of the ocean…the smell of honeysuckle in the spring…holding my love’s hand…cooking dinner for my family…the excitement in my dog’s eyes when I come home…Oyster Roasts with the family…my sister’s crazy laugh… my mom’s okra…my niece’s sweet smile…liking myself in a bathing suit…my Poppy Doc’s stories…my daddy’s 4-hour meal preparation…Fripp Island…the smell of hickory-smoked barbeque…feeling healthier than I ever have in my life…being in love…learning how to trust again…finally being proud of myself…believing in my ability… loving who I see in the mirror…these are some of the things that make up my happiness.

Don’t get me wrong…my mood isn’t always happy but knowing that I’m striving to live an incredible life with supportive, positive people around me keeps me in a state of pure exhilaration.  I am taking life one day at a time, and it is paying off.

I have discovered the life I always dreamed of having…and it really, truly has nothing to do with my dress size. I am eternally grateful for the people in my life, especially the ones that supported me when I was too weak to do it myself. I am grateful for the long journey I have been on, for if it weren’t for the hurdles I’ve been forced to face, I wouldn’t be who I am right now.

I am grateful for the lessons…I am grateful for the encouragement…I am grateful to be me.

 

Clap. Clap. Clap.

Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Hello My Name Is…

For years of my life, and even when I started this journey with you all, I had a nasty habit of calling myself some pretty disgusting names.  The negativity I had flowing through my mind with regards to my self-image would be enough to make Fidel Castro cry.

I was certainly putting on a positive face externally, but the verbal abuse I was subjecting myself to internally was insane.

I wrote down a list of the titles I used to give myself.  Wow….Seeing them on paper really opened my eyes to how mean I was.  I am NOT the things I have for so many years repeated to myself:

I am NOT a slob.

I am NOT lazy.

I am NOT a jealous, ungrateful bitch.

I am NOT disgusting.

I am NOT gross.

I am NOT a screw-up.

I am NOT a failure.

Yes, these are the lovely pet names I gave myself.  It’s no wonder I had such a hard time seeing myself in a better light once I started to change physically.  I was still running the broken record of insults inside, despite changing for the better on the outside.

I discovered that in order to change the way I saw myself, I had to create a different picture…a different image of the person I think I am.

As a praise-driven individual, it sure did take a long time to get through my thick skull that cutting myself down was certainly not the way to self-motivate.

I certainly love all the praise and compliments I have received from those that support me. While they might have once gone in one ear and out the other, they are at least sinking in a little now.  I’ve got you convinced…now it’s time to convince myself.

I’ve obtained, created, supported, and enforced my negative habits the majority of my life – but now it’s time to undo them. It’s time to undo ALL of them.  It is time for me to reprogram my brain to think of myself in only an encouraging way.

I will post notes everywhere if I have to…I will stand in front of the mirror and say something positive every morning to break the habit…whatever work needs to be done, I’m ready and willing to reverse the destructive talk.

I’ve done an incredible thing and I need to remain focused on my accomplishment. I have conquered my most persistent demon: my weight. I no longer look in the mirror and think ‘I can’t”…because I did.

I have lost almost 78 pounds…I would say that constitutes accomplishment!

I did it without gimmicks, without pills, without lotions or potions, I did it without a weight loss show.  I did it with me and only me. That’s certainly not the feat of someone fat or lazy or a failure.

I have beaucoups of reasons to look at myself and be proud.   I must paint myself in a better light…

I am successful.

I am healthy.

I am happy.

I am loved.

I am the whole package.

I must give myself a better pet name…

 

Welcome to my amazing world.

Positive anything is better than negative nothing.” ~ Elbert Hubbard

The Phantom of the Fat Girl

Down a little bit more…not as productive of a week as I would have liked, but as it was another week on the go, it could have been a lot worse.

 

For the last 14 months I have undoubtedly gone through some pretty significant physical changes.  Having lost almost 75 pounds, you can’t help but have changed a little bit.

But despite all the physical transformation I’ve gone through…despite the fact that I’ve dropped from a size 20 to a size 10…I still have a hard time seeing the new me occasionally.

I still compare myself to the Giselle’s of the world…to the Kate Upton’s. I wish for a flatter stomach and a firmer ass. I want toned arms and 1 chin…I want to look in the mirror and stop seeing fatter Hannah.

Don’t get me wrong…I do see very clearly that I’ve lost weight. But I don’t think I’m seeing myself as I presently am.

It’s like I’m on a 35 lb delay.  My brain still thinks I weight over 200 pounds.

 

Uhh, hello?!  What the hell? Where is the confidence I was guaranteed? Shouldn’t I be wearing a bikini for the first time in my life? Shouldn’t I be able to get dressed in the morning and leave the house in the first thing I pick out because there is no longer such a thing as an unflattering dress that makes me look like a refrigerator? Yeah…not so much.  To me, I look almost exactly the same. And yes, I’m still changing clothes 100 times. No bikini. On occasion, refrigerator status.

I’m putting on medium shirts and convincing myself that the sizes must have been manufactured incorrectly. My size 10 jeans fit comfortably and I’m telling myself that it’s just fluke.

How does one change that? I do I overcome the ideals of perfection thrown into my face daily by the media? How can I be proud of the fact that I’ve dropped my BMI 14 points (true story) instead of the regret that I don’t have the belly for a bikini? How do I get over the fear that every time I sit in a chair, it’s not going to buckle beneath me?

 

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The quality of that video is bad…but you get the idea!

 

Believe it or not, this distortion has an actual name:  ‘phantom fat.’  Apparently, after a person experiences weight loss, their perception of themselves can sometimes take its time to catch up to the body’s physical changes. Experts have compared it to the feeling of the phantom pains that amputees feel long after a limb is gone. Yes…I said experts. As in people-who-get-paid-to-analyze-the-brains-of-others agree with this distortion….I’m not crazy after all! (Ok…I guess that’s technically up for debate.)

Who would have thought that body image would be something I’d have to worry about once I got here? I figured my insecurities would vanish with the weight.

So now begins a new battle… I’m working on recalibrating my image of myself. Surrounding myself with positive people is certainly helping. People that don’t necessarily know the way I used to be, but see me as I am right now, and appreciate all that this person is. People that truly believe in my beauty, and not just in comparison to what I was…I am trusting the compliments for the first time in my life, instead of convincing myself that there’s some ulterior motive behind them.

But why put in all this work if I can’t see anything changing?

I know I’ve got to give it time. Staying on track towards my ideal and happy weight will help.  My brain will see and celebrate the new me eventually.

I also need to stop being unrealistic.  I’m not going to wake up tomorrow rocking the physique of a Victoria’s Secret model. Losing the weight won’t necessarily turn me into a stick thin, air brushed, Hollywood honey… No one is perfect. I’ve got to try to focus on an ideal that is realistic for me given the bones and genes I was born with.

I have come a long way mentally…it’s time I take a good hard look at myself and see the long way I’ve come physically too.

Years and years of beating myself up has left me numb to how mean I’ve been to myself…It’s high time I appreciate my body. Flaws and all…imperfections and all. It’s time for me to look into the mirror and say, “Damn, the new you is absolutely astounding.”

 

“Mirrors are perpetually deceitful. They lie and steal your true self. They reveal only what your mind believes it sees.” – Dee Remy