Face It Friday: Hitting Restart, Gains & No Excuses

Face It Friday: Hitting Restart, Gains & No Excuses

I sound like a broken record. 

I need to refocus. I need to track. I need to focus on the healthy foods. I need to remember that I am worth this journey. I need to remember that I am more than a number. I need to remember I cannot be there for my members/personal coaching clients unless I am there for myself. I need to need.

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Monday Musings: Mental Block

I've had this post open for weeks. Just a blank piece of the web staring back at me. That damn cursor blinking back at me. So much in my head wanting to escape, but the words just wouldn't pour out of my brain.

There were a couple of topics I wanted to touch on. But with so many bloggers out there someone already wrote about it ... and about 1,000 times better than I could. So I say to myself: why bother?

It's like for the past few weeks I have diminished my right - no need - to blog. I started Weight Off My Shoulders to give myself a place to release the demons from my mind, share the ups and downs in the life and to impart on folks the lessons I have learned along the way.

So why tell myself I am not worthy to do that?


Because I am feeling off track and that impacts all other areas of my life.

Sleep? Not happening and really frustrating since some of that is not out of my control.

Balanced eating? Not happening to what I expect from myself.

Fitness? Not happening to the standard I want.

So what do I do next?


No matter what I am feeling or what the topic is. I am going to work blog each and every day this week. It should open up the creative juices and help me break through this mental block.

Training Plan.

I am also meeting up with my best friend on Saturday to spend the day together and part of the day will be writing up a new training plan for me. I need to have a game plan to keep my fitness level to the point where I want it to be.

I have 9 races left on my calendar for 2014 and I want to finish strong!

Set A Bedtime.

Starting today my goal is to be in bed with lights off and maybe music playing at 9:30 and asleep by 10. This should offer a semblance of a routine back into my sleep pattern. I hope.


Get ready folks Weight Off My Shoulders is coming at ya this week! :)


REMINDER: I am hosting my first Instagram giveaway with Sparkly Soul and it ends Friday. You can enter once a day on IG by sharing #HowISparkle. This doesn't mean you have to be wearing a Sparkly Soul headband - I know some folks are trying to win their first - so show me how you sparkle: volunteering, playing with friends, inspiring others, etc...


Have you ever experienced writer's block? How did you push through?

*GIVEAWAY* Celebrating 5k Twitter Followers

Annddddd the winner IS:

a Rafflecopter giveaway



I can't thank you all enough for helping me hit the amazing milestone of 5k Twitter followers!

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I never imagined my little haven would ever grow to be what it is today. It is an honor to share my journey 140 characters at a time with all of you.

As promised I am ready to give away a Weight Watchers Success Kit to one lucky follower.

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So let's get right to it!!

Here's how to enter:

The giveaway will run from Wednesday August 27 (2pm ET) to Wednesday September 3 (2pm ET)!

Winner will be chosen and announced on Wednesday!

Check In!

So I haven't checked in on the normal life here for a while. I think since the Fall of 2013 I have been stuck in racing/training mode.

This space is set up for both the emotional and physical side of my journey.

I can honestly say that for now I am OK.

I am not horrible. I am not AMAZING.

I am fine.

I am currently going through a 31-year-old crisis as to what I need to do in life.

But I know I can't and won't go back to where I started.

You all keep me super motivated to continue on my healthy lifestyle.

There are times however that I struggle. You all know that. I am happily honest about it.

I wish maintenance was all rainbows and unicorns, but for me it isn't. I am two years into maintenance and still trying to find the balance as my life changes.


When I was losing weight, my life was work, work and more work. I never had to worry about social engagement or vacations or parties. It was easy to focus.

When we decided to move to Boston, I felt like I was becoming a New Member at Weight Watchers all over again.

I am still working to find the balance ... especially since I travel so often now for races (which I am wicked thankful for!).

So for now I keep trying different combinations of food and activity that work for me and my racing schedule.

While I may stumble and struggle emotionally, I will never derail myself enough to go back to where I came from.

I have moved on leaps and bounds from the girl who started this blog back in May 2011.

Thanks for tuning in for this journey!

3-Year Anniversary of Back Surgery!

I herniated a disc in my L4-L5 in mid-December 2010 – unfortunately I still don’t know how it happened. That's right folks! I hurt myself and have no idea how it happened. The "oh my God" pain set in while on a walk with Laney (she was still an adorable puppy that we had only had about a month) on December 11. I bent over to pick up her present for me and a shooting pain went through my lower back and left leg.

I was working for the Cubs and immediately called our team doctor. Thank goodness I had that man on speed dial. He assured me that I could go to the Patriots-Bears game the following day because it wouldn't damage my back anymore (Phew!) but I would have to see another team specialist on the Monday.

dec 14

We celebrated our one-month wedding anniversary with a Patriots win! :)

What followed was a 6-week endeavor of doctor's appointments, MRIs and physical therapy. It was a herniated disc and we were going to try physical therapy to see if we could help ease the pain.

The biggest pain (besides in the back of course) was coursing down my left leg - sciatica. The herniated disc was not only pinching a nerve, but cutting it. It left me with little to no strength in my left leg and a series case of dropfoot.

Which meant no working out. I was officially off the work out train and not happy.

Jan 1

Okay maybe I snuck in a 5k on New Year's Day 2011 - but the wife made sure I walked the whole thing ... nice and slowly!!

I started my weight loss journey in November 2009 and was picking up some serious steam by this point. I was nervous that without my workouts my weight loss would stall or go in the opposite direction.

Thankfully I had Weight Watchers on my side. Even if I couldn't work out or really even walk more than to work, I could count Points. And count I did. I measured every little thing that went into my mouth.

I asked folks to send Edible Arrangements rather than flowers. Hello pre-cut zero point goodies. :)

The physical therapy didn't improve the situation. I was offered a cortisone shot, but it wasn't covered by my insurance. A "possible" solution would've run me over $4k. It wasn't guaranteed to work and I didn't want to take that risk.

So on Monday, January 24, 2011, I walked into my doctor's office, the doctor told me the herniation had gotten worse and I would be on the table for surgery on that Friday.

Woah! That was hard to take and I immediately started crying. I was nervous. I knew it was a big risk, but it had to be done. Thankfully my dad had a lot of vacation time available and was on the next flight he could take out of Boston to be there to help the wife.

Time passed quickly and on January 28, 2011, I had a microdiscectomy. It was tough, but the pain subsided immediately. Like literally immediately. :P I awoke from surgery and the pain was gone from my leg. I could wiggle my toes and they weren't getting caught on the sheet. That meant I had enough strength to control my toes. Hallelujah!


I was in the hospital for observation for 23 hours. When I finally got to my room, my wife and dad told me the surgery actually took almost three times as long as he had expected. The disc had gotten that bad and had cut a larger slit in my nerve than they thought.

Wow! I was happy to be hearing that while in recovery.


I love my one goal: Get Well! :)

I headed home to start recooping. The excitement at first was being able to walk around the apartment ... then to work ... then for 30 minutes on the treadmill.


I wasn't able to bend over so the wife got me this sweet grabber! :P

I finally got the go-ahead to go back to stationary bike at the beginning of May 2011 and returned to running in June 2011.

I listened to everything my doctor and physical therapist said to do because I wanted to return to activity as quickly as I could.

Between mid-December 2010 and May 2011, I managed to lose 10 lbs. I was ecstatic. I followed the Weight Watchers plan and still lost. I lost while laid up from an injury. Woo! I felt like a million bucks.

The doctor wasn't sure I would be able to run again because of how the sciatica lessened my strength in the left leg.

But I took that as a challenge! ;)

I started back running in June 2011 and completed a half marathon in August 2011. I felt amazing. I took the training and tweaked it for my body. I made sure to listen to how my back felt and go from there.


I kept a Zensah compression sleeve on my left leg to help keep the blood flowing while I ran. It was an amazing accomplishment for me.

Having this experience taught me to never take moving/exercising/running for granted.

On the one year anniversary of my back surgery - January 28, 2012 - I ran the F^3 Half Marathon in honor of the Ryan Dempster Foundation.


Now, my back isn't 100% and I knew I would never regain complete strength in my left leg, but I work to improve it every day. THAT is a major reason why I strive to keep the weight off and why I work on my core. I want to give my back everything it needs.

I mean c'mon it's missing half a disc back there. :P

But I listen to my body. I know I cannot sit for more than a couple hours without getting uncomfortable. I need to adjust and stretch.

It's worth it.

Since back surgery, I have completed over 70 races including three marathons, 15 half marathons and two triathlons.

And I am just getting started! :)

My Losing List

Motivation wears off.


Now this is not a post about how everyone should be bathing daily - that is a whole different topic. ;)

During this week's Weight Watchers meetings, we are talking about creating a "Losing List." A losing list is a place for members to compile the reasons why they are looking to lose weight, create a healthy lifestyle or maintain the weight loss they already have.

The topic is wicked important to me. Since hitting goal in January 2012, I have found that I constantly need to remind myself why I lost the weight to begin with. Now it isn't because I really forget, but when I entered maintenance I found it more difficult than losing. I wasn't having the excitement of seeing a lower number on the scale each week.

I had to change my mindset. And with a new mindset came a new list of hurdles and a new level of motivation.

So I decided to create my own "Losing List."

1) Health - I didn't want to end up with high blood pressure, heart disease, etc.

2) Chairs - I wanted to comfortably fit in a chair with arms, airplane seats, movie theatre seats, etc.

3) Shopping - I wanted to be able to shop at "regular" clothing stores instead of the plus size stores.

4) Pants - I was tired of wearing sweatpants or pants that used a M-L-XL sizing chart just because I was avoiding seeing the actual size I had let myself reach ... which was a size 20.

5) Knees - I have knee pain (thanks genetics), but I learned that for every 1 lb I lost - it would relieve 3 lbs of pressure from my knees. Isn't that crazy?

6) Back - I had back surgery for a herniated disc midway through my weight loss journey and learned the more weight I kept off my back the better it was for my discs.

7) Stairs/Ramps - I was tired of getting winded by walking up stairs or trudging up the ramps at Wrigley Field during work.

8) My Wife - I wanted to start a healthy lifestyle so I would have a long future with my wife.

But to me, these are the easy answers. The ones that many people rattle off when starting a weight loss journey. But, I know in my heart of hearts there were deeper and truer reasons why I took that first step into Weight Watchers on November 2, 2009.

So here they are:

1) Self-Esteem - I HATED myself. I wanted to finally like - and over time learn to love - the person that I am.

2) Worth - I needed to prove to myself that I was WORTH making the change.

3) Eating Disorders - I wanted to prove to myself that I could lose weight and keep it off in a healthy manner. After battling two eating disorders for years, I knew there was a healthy way to lose weight.

4) Depression - Tired. I was so so tired of being unhappy with my outward appearance and the internal struggle I had to find the good inside myself. Which circles back to self-esteem.

5) Suicide - I hoped that as the weight began to disappear that the suicidal thoughts would do the same. I was so unhappy (see depression) for so long that the thoughts of suicide followed (especially in high school).

6) Hiding - I wanted to stop hiding behind my weight and start living!

Now, I didn't want to have so much of my self-worth tied to my weight, but it was. I thought that once the weight was gone I would be "cured," which I wasn't. But it has improved leaps and bounds.

Wow! Seeing all these things in writing really brings back the memories of how truly unhappy I was before embarking on this journey.

I can't always carry this list or blog post around with me so I need a physical object that can encapsulate the list. Weight Watchers calls these "anchors." I have more than one anchor - shocking! :P

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One of my anchors is a tattoo. No I am not telling you you have to get yours tattooed on you too. ;)

Ancora Imparo is a Michelangelo saying in Italian which means: "I Am Still Learning."

This simple message helped easy my perfectionist mind deal with the ups and downs of a weight loss journey. I have it on my right wrist, which allows me to see it daily and touch it if I need an extra dose of motivation.

Will this list and anchor helped me through every single tough situation? No.

But that's why I have this list, this blog and this community - to pick me up when I need it.


What is your #1 reason for losing weight or embarking on a healthy lifestyle change?

Weight: A Sensitive Topic

"If you lose some more weight..." How many of us have heard that comment before?

<<Darts both arms up into the air>>

Obviously weight and weight-related issues are prevalent in my mind since I write about them. ;)

But why am I talking about it now?

Let me take you back to yesterday's visit to the doctor.

On Tuesday November 12 (my wedding anniversary), I headed to the doctor to get my foot checked out since I have been rocking some dull foot pain for a good 6 weeks now. Probably time to get it checked out, right? ;)

I sat on the ever so comfortable doctor's table/chair situation with that fancy sheet of paper fabric on it. The doctor came in - who I haven't seen since 2005 - came in to chat about my problems. I explained the foot pain, she checked out my feet, sat down, looked at me and said:

"If you lost some weight it would be better for your foot. Less pressure on it."

<<insert shocked face here>>

Inner monologue: But I weigh in the 150s which is in the middle of the healthy weight range for my height.

<<insert punch to the gut feeling here>>

Inner monologue: Do I not look as fit and healthy as I feel?

<<insert tiny emotional breakdown>>

Inner monologue: So I should start losing more weight ASAP.

Yes insert all that in about a 20 second period before I could respond: "Well I have shed 80 lbs."

She looks up at me over the rim of her glasses and says: "Well that is a good start."

<<insert open mouth shocked face>>

Inner monologue: Doesn't this lady understand how HUGE that is?

<<insert bigger punch to the gut feeling>>

I tried to focus on what she said about my foot and diagnosing me with metatarsalgia (overuse of my foot) and sending me to a podiatrist.

Since my mind was still on the weight comment, I calmly asked her to go back in my weight record since hey I went to this doctor's office since I was a little kiddie.

As we looked at the weight graph, I pointed out how she could see that I hadn't been in the 150s since 1995 ... when I was in 7th grade.

Her response: "Ahhh good job."

Ummm where's that bedside manner Doc?

I quickly gathered my things, grabbed my prescription and burst out the door.

What did I do next?

Had a mental fight with myself about what to do next: go eat a ton of food then throw it up, not eat anything for the rest of the day or go work out as much as possible since clearly I look much heavier than I thought.

But instead of doing all that, I went to my support: social media.

Thankfully between friends, family and social media, I was talked off the ledge about taking this doctor's comments so hard.

But, it really got me thinking, weight and weight issues are SUCH a sensitive subject that some people are completely oblivious to.

Wording ... delivery ... context.

Discussing weight with a stranger is one of the most sensitive topics I can imagine.

Since embarking on my own weight loss journey, I have become more aware of how discussing weight can impact a person.

I remember - before starting my weight loss journey - going to the gym and seeing the really fit/tiny girls on the treadmill and thinking: "They are so skinny. They don't have to be here" and really judging the people around me. I'll be honest - I did it.

Since starting the journey, I now look at that same person at the gym and wonder: "Have they always been fit? Do they have a story to share?"

No matter the person whether they have always been a healthy weight or they have been underweight or overweight - every person has a story.

Now when the topic of weight comes up in any context of my life, I try to be as careful as possible when figuring out how to word any comment I may want to make. Especially since I am a Weight Watchers Leader and part of so many people's journeys.

Because you really have NO idea what that person has gone through.

Looking at me now, people wouldn't know that I have fought to shed 80 pounds.

A stranger looking at me wouldn't know that I still work to recover from two eating disorders.

While lifting 3 lb weights at the gym, a fellow gym goer would be oblivious to the fact that I was in a car accident in the early 2000s that took a lot of strength from my left side.

So the next time the topic of weight comes up in your everyday life, just take a moment to think and choose words carefully.

Did I say anything to that doctor? No and I regret it. I wish I could've told her how much her words hurt and how instantaneously my mind went to a dark place.

Next time!

Dani Dishes 11-4-13

On this episode of Dani Dishes, I'm giving a little overall life update: health, weight loss perspective, blogging, upcoming Weight Watchers photo shoot/trip to NYC and more!! :)

Dealing with your "Before" when you hit your "After"

Butterflies and unicorns and rainbows


Exactly how I envisioned life after hitting my "goal weight"!!

But that wasn't reality.

Shocking I know. ;)

I've written on my blog (Weight Off My Shoulders) how the day after hitting goal the inner demons I fought for so long were still there. Except now they weren't buried under all the weight. They were right in front of me, raw and ready to be dealt with.

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For years, I told myself: "If you just lost 50 lbs you would be so happy and life would be okay." And I remember having that EXACT same discussion with my aunt when I was 12. I remember riding in her car after we left the mall and saying to her: "I need to lose 50 lbs." Okay so apparently the number 50 was relevant or I just pulled it out of my ass - I'm not sure which.

But over and over I said once I lost the weight I would like myself. I would be happy. I would be able to release the thoughts of hurting myself and the depression would go away.

In 2006, I hit the bottom of dealing with two eating disorders and cutting. I had found a way to "control" my weight and my emotions. I got to my lowest weight in the beginning of 2007 (at the time around 180) and thought everything was okay!



But after an intervention of sorts with friends, I stopped the cutting and tried to take a handle on the eating disorders, which led me to regain almost all the weight I had lost.

Reenter depression.

So I joined Weight Watchers in November 2009 and was ready to lose the weight in a healthy way.


And damn those WW people for not only helping me get a handle on the healthy eating aspect of weight loss, but for showing me that it is more of a mental game than anything. You have the change your thinking in order to make the weight stay off.

Sneaky WW very sneaky.

So through the journey, the confidence rose, the happiness level with myself increased, but at the core of it all I still OWNED negative self talk.

I will say that thankfully the suicidal thoughts deteriorated over the course of time. THAT in itself is a huge F-in win!! I had those thoughts since high school.

But as I hit goal on January 2012 and Lifetime in February 2012. The little voice in my head was still there. You aren't worthy of this new life - this new you. You still suck.


So it was at that point. As I become the "after" that it was time to dig through all the emotional gunk to truly find out how I let myself get to that miserable 230 lb person.

And that is the journey I am on now. There is no quick fix to find out what was at the core of the pain, but as long as I keep searching I will find answers.

For many of us, the true work of reaching goal is when the mental game catches up with the physical.

That is why I put more stock into the non-scale victories than the number on the scale itself. Because when I read 15X on the scale, I am thrilled, but now I know I didn't solve all my life's problems by losing XX lbs. I will solve life problems by looking inward and truly facing what is going on.

Depression ... cutting ... self-loathing. None of that is fun, but I need to face it if I want to beat it.

Many people can go to therapy and work through these issues with a third party. It isn't for me. I tried it and hated it. But for some reason sharing those same inner demons on this blog, I find that release. I find that the weight gets lifted off my shoulders.

So I continue to journey.

I continue to tackle with my "before" as I live in my "after"!