Knowing How Far You’ve Come

Sometimes we don’t realize how far we’ve come… Four years ago I saw my health decline and my weight increase.  I was sick all the time and didn’t have any energy nor time to workout, run or take care of myself.  And then my mom had a stroke… I knew at that moment it was time for me to make changes in my life.

See my earlier post: The Decision I Made That Changed My Life

It was a slow start the first year or so.  I lost about 20 lbs., but gained 10 of those pounds back ’cause I didn’t change my eating habits and mindset.  I got frustrated and lost my motivation.  But then I had a friend who challenged me to walk a 5K, a cousin who introduced me to Advocare and a coach who suggested to change my environment by surrounding myself with people who lifts me up and motivate me to keep going.

I have finally found a lifestyle I could live with.   The past two years I have really focused on my eating, running, exercising and rest.   People always ask me what did I give up to get where I am today.  I don’t look at what I had to give up, I look at what I have gained.  I have gained confidence in my abilities, strength, endurance, awesome trainers and fitness friends.  I also have a better understanding of who I am when I eat.  I am not the emotional eater anymore.   I keep to the 80/20 rule of healthy eating.   It has helped me change my habits and thinking as well as helped me to discipline myself on what I choose to eat.

So here I am today to celebrate how far I’ve come with a few transformation photos and accomplishments.

5Ks

My first 5K was in 2011, when I weighed more than I do now.  I walked majority of it and finished it a little under an hour.  A couple of weeks ago I had my first nighttime 5K race and finished it in 32:24 minutes!

5k transformation

Drop a Size

I set a goal to drop another size this year and I did it!  Size 12 to size 11.

Drop a Size

 Here is another two year transformation photo.  The 2012 photo was taken when I started my first 24 Day Challenge.

two year transformation photo

Whatever you are working on and however far you still have to go,  I want to encourage you to keep going and be proud of your achievements.  It doesn’t matter how fast or slow, as long as you keep moving forward and enjoy each step along the way.

 

Theresa, The Chronic Pain Ninja

Over the past few weeks there have been awesome and touching videos of people participating in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness for ALS.

What is ALS?  Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.  You can read more about ALS from their website : What is ALS.

ALS National Red logohttp://www.alsa.org/

I’m actually aware of ALS because I have a dear friend who is recently going through the stages of this disease and currently taking tests  to rule out what the doctors believe is Lou Gehrig’s/ALS.  So when I was called out by my friend Joanie to take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, I was happy to do so in honor of my friend, Theresa who suffers from not only the symptoms of ALS but from RSD too.

RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy) is a chronic pain condition.  It’s a malfunction of the central nervous systems, which causes pain and additional symptoms.  You can read more about RSD from their website : What is RSD.

crps.awareness.fp.2014

http://www.rsds.org/index2.html

Theresa Wade and I have been friends for over 10 years.  We actually would run 5K races together.  She was diagnosed with RSD 3 years ago.  Recently she has shown symptoms of ALS and is taking tests to rule out this disease.

Here is her story…

September 2013

theresa

“I used to be a 5K runner, active, and always moving!  I was originally diagnosed with RSD in 2011.  Through determination, I walked 5Ks I wound up in a wheelchair in September due to tremors they thought were caused by ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease although not 100% certain.  I started some medicine.  I continued to do therapy and battle never being one to give up.  Here it is almost one year later after medicine and therapy and I’m walking.  I have tremors on occasion controlled by meds and stay positive using my faith, my family, and friends.  This year I have a challenge.  While y’all are icing it, I’m training for the hot chocolate 15K in February!  If there’s one thing I’ve learned, never give up on yourself, and always stay positive!!  You can do it!!  I have RSD and ALS but it doesn’t own me!”  Theresa Wade

Theresa is a fighter.  She came in first at Triumph Over Pain 5K last year in her wheelchair!

Wheelchair Race

Pain may begin in one area or limb and then spread to other limbs with RSD.  It can also include: dramatic changes in the color and temperature of the skin over the affected body part, intense burning pain, sweating, and swelling.  Chronic pain is the invisible disability, so don’t assume that someone is in more or less pain simply by the way they look.  While it may seem they are not hurting at all they could be screaming in pain by the time they get home.

good days bad days

Yesterday was a good day for Theresa!  She was so excited when I told her I was doing this challenge in her honor that she joined me and dumped the ice water on top of me!

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

I am glad I had the opportunity to honor my friend and help raise awareness about ALS and RSD.  She is a beautiful person with a strong spirit and an inspiration to others who are fighting this disease.  I hope and pray that the tests she has to take will rule out ALS.  If you would like to follow Theresa and her progress please join her on her Facebook group Chronic Pain Support Group or you can watch her pain journal on YouTube.

Welcome To My New Blog

I’m excited and happy to welcome everybody to my new blog.  After completing my 24 Day Challenge, I decided to start a fitness blog to focus more on my health and fitness journey.  This blog is about how I began and how Advocare enhanced my mental focus, physical performance and endurance. Although I am not a certified personal trainer, I am a runner and sort of a fitness fanatic that is willing to share my journey, healthy tips and fitness motivation that have worked for me and may help you too.

Other Social Networks

Please join me on Facebook!

Spark Your Fit

Facebook Page

Follow Me On Twitter!

@SparkFitChele

Twitter

I truly hope you can find a spark of inspiration and helpful tips here to renew or start your healthy lifestyle.

Fitness in Review

If you have been following me for a while, then you know the story of me deciding to make changes in my life.  One major change was leaving a job that no longer served me, the next was to improve my health and lose some weight. Well here I am almost three years later… Still going strong!

This year I had three main fitness goals to accomplish:

Drop A Size
(My goal was to get into a pair of jeans I haven’t worn since 2005.)
Met Jean Goal
 
10K Race
10K race 
 Lose 15-20 More Pounds
(One Year  – After completing three Advocare 24 Day Challenges and regular physical activity.)
One Year - 24 Day Challenge I’ve met two out of the three goals, lost 6-7 lbs and some inches.

It has always been a challenge for me to keep the weight off. I’m tooting my horn today because although I may not have reached my goal of losing more weight, I have met a long time goal of KEEPING IT OFF ! WOOT! A huge pat on my back for having faith in myself and the determination to keep going in spite of obstacles.  The hard work and dedication is paying off. (See transformation photo below.)

Transformation

Big shout out to my family, friends, fitness coaches, running coaches, nutritionists, runners, workout buddies and Advocare peeps who have given their time, support and encouragement. I’m truly grateful!

As the New Year approaches, I look forward to new goals, new healthy habits, meeting new runners/fitness friends and training for my first half marathon. Oh boy!

So here’s to another year of workouts, long runs, eating healthy and fitness fun! Cheers to a New Year!

How I Spent My Summer Days

Hi friends,

It’s been a long time since my last post. Lots of exciting things have happened in the past three months so let’s catch up.

Independent to Permanent

My last post was about the decision to leave the corporate world to venture out as an independent contractor.  For a year I worked independently for a company who believed in my idea and appreciate my hard work.  As of June of this year, I became a part of their team on a permanent basis and still get to work from home. Yay!  It feels great to be a part of a company that their values are aligned with my own.  I’m looking forward to an exciting and busy year with future opportunities.

If you missed my original post in May here it is below.

The Decision I Made That Changed My Life

My Fitspiration

This year on my fitness journey my goals were to continue to get in better shape for 5Ks, run one every month, shave 5 to 6 minutes off my time and drop 20 lbs.  I’m proud to say I have stayed committed to my goals except for the 5K every month; there were a few months I missed.

31-Day Challenge x 2                                             At the end of June I decided to create a fitness challenge because I was getting bored with the same old routines. I came up with 31 Days of Running in July. I thought if I run for 31 days and exercise maybe that would help me get in better shape, lose a few pounds and shave a couple of minutes off my time.  I reached out to my online friends to see if they were interested and we came up with 31-Day Challenge for those who didn’t want to run.  The 31-Day Challenge was to exercise 31 minutes for 31 days.  Once I had it all together, I created an event on Facebook so we could post our updates, motivation, challenges and successes.  It turned out so well, we did the 31-Day Challenge again for the month of August.

Things I’ve Learned Along The Way

The Do’s and Don’ts

1) Do determine your willingness for exercise.  Are you ready for your life to change?  If you are not, then you won’t stick to an exercise program or your goals.  Your mental attitude is one of the most important things when committing to a lifestyle change.

2) Do tell your doctor you want to begin a fitness program and get a medical exam to make sure you are healthy enough to start.

3) Do choose exercises you really enjoy.  Most likely you’ll give up if you don’t enjoy the workout routine.  Therefore make sure you choose the right activity like walking, running, zumba, jazzercise and many others for you to enjoy while working out.

4) Don’t set out of reach expectations.  We all have huge expectations when it comes to our fitness routine.  Be prepared for setbacks.  There will be days you will miss a workout, bad eating and plateaus where you feel that there isn’t any progress.

5) Don’t beat yourself up! Recognize that setbacks will happen and make adjustments in your routine and get back on track.

6) Don’t go over the top.  Make sure you know how to do every exercise properly and safely.  Injury is one of the biggest reason why exercising fails.

7) Don’t try to lose weight quickly.  Set a goal on a monthly basis versus a week.  For example my goal is to lose 3 lbs a month.  Even though it may not sound like a lot it adds up.  Take the time to learn how to have a positive mindset, to eat healthy foods, measure the right portion size, and exercise.  There are many great fitness and health websites and coaches that have educational information to help you on your journey.

Wrap Up

31 Days of Running 

As I started out struggling to make it to the end; I’ve seen my endurance and stamina increase during my runs where now I can make it to the end and finish strong.  I was able to push myself each day to get better on my breathing, pace and shaving my time. I just recently completed a 5K and I’m happy to say since my last race in May, I have shaved 2.50 minutes off my time! Hard work pays off!

United Way Hustle for Health 2012

 31-Day Challenge

I’ve learned a lot about exercise, running, metabolism, healthy foods and their ingredients and calories, required daily amounts of water, proteins, carbs, and fats, healthy cooking and new recipes. I saw so much improvement in my energy throughout the day because of exercising and eating the right foods. I’ve lost more inches than weight – not as much as I hoped for but the ball is rolling!!  I’ve learned a lot about myself and what I can do.

Being on this fitness journey has helped me identify and change a small number of my bad habits.  It has also condition my mind to be more conscientious about what I eat to energize and revitalize my body. So even though this challenge is over I will continue exercise, run and eat healthier food.

Appreciation

I want to give a quick thanks to everyone who participated in the challenges and a special thanks to Julie Walraven, Design Resumes, who wrote an awe-inspiring blog about it. I have posted it below.

The Challenge of Life in General