What Love Means to Me

Love. Big sigh.

If you have a fairytale relationship/marriage then you will completely disagree with some things I’m going to say but for most of us, the road to love has been rocky and covered with hot coals.

More often than not, I’ve chosen the wrong man to love. It’s never been intentional but I am a firm believer in following your heart even while my brain is screaming Danger, Danger!  I’ve always sought that love story that we all yearn for as little girls, the love story my grandparents had. The simple, unconditional kind of love. Does it exist anymore?

It goes like this…you meet someone single & attractive. They seem to be sane. In the beginning, everyone is on their best behavior. You both do all the right things, say the right things, act the right way then things begin to change and the crazy comes out! Maybe not the crazy but most of you know what I mean, they stop doing the little things that, although small, are important, they stop being who they pretended to be at first or they just move on to someone else while still dating you.

If some parts of love wasn’t stressful enough, social media makes it ten times worse. If you are a cheater, it’s a hotbed of available women/men who have very little respect for your commitment status. If you seek attention such as flirting or compliments, it doesn’t take long to find it on the world wide web. Don’t get me wrong, I have met some wonderful people through Facebook or IG and it’s great for keeping up with friends and family members but it’s also great for keeping some messenger secrets.

I’ll admit, I’ve been cheated on more times than I can count. Every time it hurt until the point, I became numb and gave up the fight. If someone is going to do it, they will find a way regardless of how you feel. Once upon a time, I thought it was me and maybe that I wasn’t good enough or pretty enough but then I realized it wasn’t that at all.  There can be many reasons why someone cheats but the leading factor, I believe, is someone’s insecurities. With some exceptions, I feel men and women cheat for different reasons..for men, it’s usually purely physical and for women, it’s definitely more emotional.

Love shouldn’t hurt you mentally, physically or financially. Love heals. Love didn’t reject you or leave you wondering, someone who doesn’t know how to love did all those things. It can’t be forced or fabricated, it’s better to be single then to be with the wrong person as I’ve experienced. You cannot make someone love you. You cannot force others to be faithful or respectful, that has to come from within.

Love yourself first and foremost and believe that you deserve to be happy and loved by an amazing person. You deserve someone who would bag the moon and stars for you. Be patient and give yourself time to heal after a relationship. Going from person to person is not healthy, take a break. Focus on you so that you don’t hurt the next person by bringing negative energy into their life.

Lastly, when you meet that person who is different, who is constantly on your mind, take your time. Don’t rush things, be patient. Love is friendship set on fire. Learn to wait. Don’t lie. Be respectful. Communication is key. Don’t settle. Their time is just as precious as yours. Don’t take advantage of someone’s love, it’s not fair to either of you. No matter how many times I’ve been hurt by someone I loved, I will never give up on it. Love is so special and I can’t wait to share it with someone who feels the same way I do.

My Weight Loss Journey

Disclaimer: This blog is based solely upon how I lost weight. This method may not work for others but with determination and hard work, YOU can achieve anything! I am, by no means, putting down anyone who chooses different methods such as diet pills or surgery. That’s their option, it simply was not a choice for me.

My name is Samantha and I am addicted to food. There I said it, I have a problem. I love food. I love how it tastes. When I’m sad, I want to eat. When I’m happy, I want to eat. When I’m upset or stressed, food is my comfort. Can anyone relate to this? We all, at times, have a dependency on something…whether it’s cigarettes, drugs, speeding or in my case, food. I didn’t become overweight from eating carrots (although, last week a carrot almost caused my death…a Twinkie would have never did that).

I’ve been chubby since birth. Comments in my baby book state the fact, “She’s a beautiful baby but a big one”. For years, my parents believed I had a medical condition and dragged me from doctor to doctor. I remember each one stating that it was simply baby fat and would be gone by the time I was age 5. But guess what? That never happened, I continued to get larger. Luckily for me my family was always supportive regardless of my weight but elementary and high school students were a different story.

Kids can be cruel. Simple as that. They are brutally honest and hurtful. Many times, I didn’t have any friends to play with at recess or I wasn’t invited to a sleepover because I was fat. All this did was fuel my desire for more food. I remember sneaking in the fridge at night when my parents were asleep to eat. In high school, when you think the teasing or bullying should be at a minimum, it worsened. Days I would come home after being teased constantly and turn to my one comfort…food.

I tell you all this for background purposes only. I’ve dealt with the demons from my past. One thing I discovered was self-love, loving myself no matter what size. Society makes it difficult at times, magazines show unnaturally skinny women with perfect breasts and flawless skin. What we must realize is that’s not real life…real life has circles under your eyes, real life has days when your jeans will not zip or hair days where a hat is a must!

January 3rd, 2017 was a turning point for me. I weighed 289lbs. That’s the day I decided to start my life over, to become a better me. I had spent the last part of 2016, heartbroken and wallowing in food.  I had gained 20lbs over a four-month period which caused my blood pressure to once again, get out of control and for the first time, I actually felt disgusted when I looked in the mirror. It was time for a change and it had to start with me.

Junk food was given away or tossed. I realize this is something most people can’t do but I’m giving you insight on how I did it. If it wasn’t healthy, it was NOT coming into my home. I bought a food journal and downloaded My Fitness Pal and began tracking everything that crossed my lips. I made a list of goals and water became my best friend. I researched different foods, constantly trying new things to spark my taste buds.

I began following inspirational people on Instagram, people who had lost weight naturally and their methods. I enjoyed their stories and transformation pictures, I knew one day that would be me. All these pages had a common theme, eat healthy and exercise daily. Something I need to mention is that I’m lazy, I will be the first to admit it or I should say, I WAS lazy. I knew I should incorporate exercise into my new healthier lifestyle but I couldn’t make myself.

By April, I had lost 30lbs. Woohoo! I have to admit, there are many times I fell off the wagon and fell back into some horrible eating. It’s easy to slip back into bad habits. Time can be an enemy and you must prepare for whatever comes your way. I keep protein bars or unsalted almonds in my purse or car. Whenever hunger strikes, I’m not tempted to grab some nuggets from the drive thru.

Also, hydration is key. A lot of times, our body is thirsty and we mistake it for hunger. Everyday, I consume over a gallon of water. Water is essential to good health. I’m always amazed by people who rarely drink it. How do you live?! One of my favorites to make at home is infused water. I’ll use cucumber, lemon, mint, strawberries, oranges or whatever I chose to make my water a little more flavorful. I am not a fan of the drink mix packet, simply because they cause me to have cravings because of the artificial sweeteners.

I began to meal prep and did constant research on healthier recipes that I could make ahead. I bought containers and prepared snacks and meals for four days at a time. Hard boiled egg whites, cheese sticks, sliced cucumbers, celery, carrots, 100 calorie packs of almonds were some of my favorite snacks. I baked chicken or made turkey meatballs with loads of veggies for lunch and dinner, all seasoned with no sodium Mrs. Dash.

It was at that point, the weight loss stalled. I mixed up my diet, added carbs, took them away. I tried intermittent fasting, protein shakes for breakfast and lunch and cut back my calories so much that I was weak from hunger. Realistically, those things worked for a little while but it’s impossible to maintain a healthy lifestyle using those methods. I realized what I needed to do was exercise, no way around it.

I joined a local rec center and haven’t looked back since. I still have my bad days where I eat chips and pizza and cupcakes but they are few and far in between. The good days are plentiful. The days where I eat loads of fresh veggies, lean protein and exercise till I can’t walk. I can leave work in the worst mood, hit the gym for an hour and feel like a million bucks. Exercise help me shed the last 30lbs of my first goal and yesterday morning, on my 41st birthday, I weighed in at 228lbs the smallest I have been since elementary school.

If you struggle like I have and still do and want to change, then realize it all starts with YOU. You have to want it badly enough to do something about it. Take charge of your life and don’t allow anyone or anything to stop you. I loved my body when I weighed my heaviest at 360lbs (1999-2003) but my quality of life is so much better now. I have tons of energy and do things I only wished I could do in the past.

My next goal is 200lbs which I hope to reach by Christmas. That’s plenty of time but my focus will be more on exercise and toning vs. losing weight. It also helped me to reward myself every so often. When I lost 20lbs, I bought a new outfit. When I lost 50lbs, I bought a new ring and charm. By rewarding yourself, it may give extra incentive to work harder. Take pictures when you start and at intervals throughout, that’s something I did not do and I’m kicking myself now. I did made the layout above with pictures from 2013 and last Sunday to show how important it is to document your journey. I can have a bad day and the old pictures remind me how far I’ve come.

What I want to say to you all is this…you have it in you to be successful at whatever you chose. If you want to get your college degree at 50, go back to school! If you want a new job, don’t give up till you get it! Whatever you want, go for it…if life knocks you down, get back up and try it again. Remember, nothing is perfect and that’s what makes life so special. You started for a reason, find a way to make it happen.

Don’t give up. Eat your veggies. Exercise daily. Learn to love water. Simply be happy.

 

 

 

 

Celebrate You!

As many of you know, I’m a big fan of celebrating yourself and who you are! However, I may be an even bigger fan of celebrating birthdays. From balloons to cakes to streamers, I love it all. 🙂

Years ago, a dear friend of mine broke it down like this. Your birthday is your personal holiday. It’s the day you were brought into this world, the day you saw your family, the day of many firsts so party it up! Every day is a gift but this day is extra special just like you.

When I was younger, I always enjoyed birthday parties…who doesn’t? However, I noticed as I got older, the parties got a lot smaller or stopped all together. Who made that rule? No matter what age, a birthday should still be made to feel special whether in private or public.

For some people, their age is an issue and I completely understand. As we get older, our body reminds us with new creaks and aches. It’s all part of this wonderful thing we call life, embrace it. Embrace every wrinkle and laugh line you have, you are blessed to have the opportunity to grow older.

I’m lucky enough to share my birthday month, July, with many special people. My Grandmother Louise, my Papaw Mitchell, my Great Aunt Cookie, my Aunt Elaine, my Great Uncle Ralph (we shared the same day, he always joked I was his present), my sweet friends Carla & Theresa and a special little boy, Jason to name a few! Happy Birthday July babies!

Friday, I kicked off the beginning of my birthday week with some friends/coworkers. I am so thankful to have them in my life to keep me sane! We had a great time eating and celebrating. At the end, there may have been a small, teeny cake fight in the restaurant but we were polite enough to clean up our mess!

As an adult, there aren’t rules that say you must stop having fun! I think many people forget that, life can be so mundane at times. Always remember, it’s okay to celebrate you. Don’t wait on others to make you feel loved, love yourself. Find the beautiful in your life. Be silly. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it. Be the best person you can be and never stop celebrating you…every day.

 

 

A Grandmother’s Love

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

My beautiful Grandmother left this earth February 28, 2015. Her Heavenly celebration began at that point with her parents and other loved ones who had passed. I’m positive at the moment of her last breath, my Grandfather was holding out his arms and saying, “Welcome home, I’ve missed you so.”

A week from today, she would have celebrated her 81st birthday. She always hated the fact that we made a big deal out of that day. I’d show up with silly birthday hats and streamers, Mom would make a cake and others would bring gifts and food. She would fuss at us all, standing there in her Sunday dress and knee hi’s, but deep down this is what she lived for…her family being together.

Family meant everything to her. Stories about broken hearts, a new job we were going after or that we ran into Linda May (purely fictional, btw) were always received with an open heart and mind. She’d listen patiently before giving us the words she thought best.

She taught me the true definition of unconditional love. Many times I turned to her for help and she was always there. Being the oldest grandchild, she may have allowed me to get away with more than the others but she was still firm when needed. She would pick on me about the silliest things and my, how I miss that.

The closeness I shared with her went beyond a grandmother/granddaughter relationship. There were many times, I felt like she was my mom. In her last days, she spoke and said she loved all her kids, even the extra one. Guess who she was talking about? It makes me smile to this day.

You would never know in the picture above how much pain she was in, how she was losing her battle. You can’t tell from her smile that she knew that would be her last Thanksgiving with us all. This was to be the last time I fixed her hair, makeup and painted her nails. She proudly sits there in her penguin sweater my nieces bought her for Christmas that she insisted on wearing.

Sometimes I wish she was still here but I realize how selfish that is of me. I need her on the couch beside me watching our silly Hallmark movies, I need her fixing salmon patties whenever I asked, I need her hand to hold but Heaven needed her more. There is simply no love like a Grandmother’s love, it is pure and kind and forgiving. If you are blessed to still have your Grandmother, please cherish every moment.

Forever wishing there was one more moment with mine.

My Top 5 Happy Steps

  1. Stay away from negative people
  2. Stop caring what people think
  3. Don’t be jealous
  4. Accept what cannot be changed
  5. Learn how to forgive and forget

Negative people. We all know someone who doesn’t have a nice word to say about anything. They are quick to point out the fault of others but totally disregard their own. Don’t waste your time with those types, it simply isn’t worth it. Negative people have a problem for every situation and don’t care to share it.

If you can’t completely ignore these people then limit your time or counteract their toxic statements with something good.  I truly feel those types of people aren’t happy with themselves. Positivity comes from within and if you aren’t happy with yourself then you definitely can’t be happy around others. Have patience and understanding when dealing with those types by realizing that it’s something deeper than what’s on the surface. However, don’t allow it to bring you down.

Stop caring how others feel about or view you. Just stop feeling like you have to fit in or please others. Make yourself happy first and foremost. At one point, we all want to fit in with the crowd or I did. I felt if I was like everyone else then more people would like me. The truth is, the more I acted like others the more I stopped liking myself.

It’s a cookie cutter society we live in, always pushing us to look and act the same. IGNORE that BS! Seriously, ignore it. It’s okay to not be part of the crowd and to stand out. Do your own thing regardless of how many people roll their eyes at you. Embrace that you are different and brave enough to show it. In a world full of pink crayons, be the white one!

Jealously is a funny thing. We want what others have but we don’t want to work for it. Sure some people have an easier life than others but be happy with what you have. Blowing out someone else’s candle, doesn’t make yours shine any brighter. Count your blessings and stop comparing your life to others, you don’t know what they’ve been through to get where they are.

Finding the courage to let go of what cannot be changed is one of the hardest things a person has to do. We can wish all we want for things to be different but more often than not, they can’t be. Accept it and move on. You can struggle with what it is…blaming yourself or others but truth be told, it’s just the reality of life.

Forgiving and forgetting. Those two words have so much behind them. Some people really truly never learn how to forgive others and they go through life carrying the hurt and anger with them, unable to let go and move on. Forgiving someone who hurt you deeply, releases you and allows your heart to heal. We’ve all suffered in love and friendships, we’ve been cheated on and betrayed by individuals we thought would never hurt us and it’s hard. Hard to forget the pain and hurt but you cannot dwell on it and allow life to pass you by.

You deserve love and happiness in your life. You deserve to be free from the pain. Believe you deserve it all. Don’t lump everyone together, not everyone is out to break you or take from you. Good people still exist, those who are kind, generous, and loving. Give the future a chance.

Change doesn’t happen overnight but it can happen when you allow it to. Keep an open mind and an open heart. Don’t allow anyone to take the goodness from you. I know it’s easier said then done but don’t give up. Happiness is a choice, not a result. Nothing can make you happy until you choose to be happy. Your happiness will not come to you, it will come from YOU. Choose happy my friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coffee & Mistakes

I’ve always hated coffee. Moment of silence for those that just fell out of their chairs. The black bitterness did nothing for me. However, the smell was on an entirely different level. The aroma is rich and potent and downright, heavenly.

At the beginning of the year, I decided to start eating healthier and began to look for new breakfast options besides McDonald’s. All the low carb/keto pages I follow on Instagram rave about iced coffee so I decided I was going to try it and love it! This started my seemingly never-ending road to finding the best recipe for me which was one that didn’t taste like coffee…LOL!

Many attempts later, I settled on one that included a protein shake, liquid stevia, unsweetened almond/cashew milk and cold coffee. I began using my Keurig to brew one cup at a time which wasn’t enough. Next I pulled out the small 5 cup coffee pot and bought the biggest jug of Folgers they make…a whopping 380 cups. Being unsure how much coffee to brew, I found a small scoop and carefully measured out 5 level scoops for 5 cups of coffee…makes sense, right?

What happened is this…first of all, 5 cups of water in a 5 cup coffee maker only makes 4 cups of coffee. Where does the other cup go? If that’s normal, shouldn’t the coffee maker companies allow for that and label the pot 5 cups when it’s actually 6 to accommodate for the disappearing one cup. Also, the amount of coffee I was using was almost three times what I should have been using as illustrated in the picture above. Complete iced coffee failure. I think I will just stick to water, it never lets me down.

Everyday we make mistakes and it’s okay. What isn’t okay is constantly making the same ones over and over. Life is one big learning curve and it’s inevitable that we will screw up every once in a while. Mistakes keep us humble. It’s easy to fall into the same, safe pattern because we are afraid to fail if we try something new. Move out of that comfort zone and make some mistakes. Learn from them, apply them to new ventures.

We don’t just learn more when we’re open to mistakes, we learn deeper. Don’t see them as a failure to learn, view them as a guide to what still needs to be learned. Perfection doesn’t exist, no matter how hard we fake it. Just remember to admit your mistakes, learn from them and don’t repeat them. Don’t put others down for failing and don’t allow others to put you down. Respect is still deserved.

My wish for you all is this…make mistakes. Make plenty of amazing mistakes because it means you are trying new things, doing new things. Make mistakes no one has ever made before. Do not stop living, do not worry that it’s not good enough, or it’s not perfect. Work, love, family, life. If you fear it, DO it! Make your mistakes and never stop learning my friends.

 

The 3P’s needed in life.

Potatoes, Pokémon, pets…we also need those P’s in our lives but the three I seem to need most are prayers, patience & positivity. Regardless if you are a religious person or not, prayers are needed everyday. Prayers for sick family members or friends, prayers for our soldiers, prayers for yourself.

Praying can be an awkward thing…do I have to be on one knee like when I was a small child in church? Do my eyes have to be closed? Will the big man upstairs take me seriously if I’m praying from the bathroom? In my opinion, he hears you no matter what your position or location. I’ve heard many people ask why they should pray, because they are never answered. Prayers to win the lottery or to find Mr./Mrs. Right when you were supposedly dating him last week may not get a response but others may.

Write down your prayers. I have a small prayer box filled with prayers for people I care about who may need uplifting in spirits. I also include prayers for myself and our country. Your prayers are yours, there isn’t a right or a wrong even if they include the lottery or Mr./Mrs. Right.

Patience is a work in progress for me, honestly. I’ve always been the type of person that needs instant gratification. For me, the short term pleasure eventually leads to long term pain. Relationships, friendships, career moves…I must stay away from shiny people & things (except glitter, I love glitter). God moves on his own time.

You must learn to deal with delays without getting upset or angry and realize you may be protected from something due to your waiting. How many of us have witnessed an accident and realized if we had been 5 minutes earlier, it would have been us? Rushing through life prevents you from appreciating what you have. Take some time and slow down, be patient with yourself and others.

Positivity. Positivity. Positivity. I can’t say it enough. It can change your life! Find good things in everything you do. I get it, it is hard at times but if you have a roof over your head, food in your belly and you are breathing…you are blessed way more than others. It is hard to be an adult at times. My belief is that we should all receive “Adult of the month” awards for just making it through.

Surround yourself with positive people. I call them sunshine individuals…they light up a conversation and touch everyone they are around. Strive to be that person, you never know when one positive or kind word can change a person’s day. Be encouraging and remind others to not give up. I will say it again, life is hard. Don’t make it harder by being negative or rude.

At the end of the day, you are blessed beyond belief. Just take the time to see it. Be happy for others, forgive those who wronged you so you can move on, and smile more. It’s beautiful.