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Hello World
Mar 29

Hello World

Welcome to our blog section…where we wear our hearts on our sleeves and tell the world about our Follow the Fifty journey. Share your story. Inspire. Engage. Empower.

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  1. August 27, 2013

    I can’t believe that so much time has passed since we were all working together, exercising, walking, looking forward to the Holiday Spectacular, attending the Red Dress Fashion Show in NYC, celebrating US!
    Many of our sisters have had challenges since then, myself included. It’s been tough to get groups together to do things and in turn it seems that we have lost some enthusiasm. It seemed as though the group effort made staying on track so much easier. I don’t know, maybe in part it was that sense of accountability. Or maybe it was knowing that we were going to take the Stage in December that motivated us to do our best. Whatever it was, it seems, sadly, to have waned.

    Over the past several weeks there have been some “mini-reunions” at fundraising events, the Deary, the Tri and things like that. I can only speak for myself but seeing everyone together again, that sea of red shirts, has given me a renewed spirit. It truly was good for my soul to be in the company of my sisters, especially the ones that I don’t see routinely.

    It got me to thinking about where I was a year ago vs where I am today. Yes, I have had some physical challenges, and I have continued to make good choices about food (I havent had a choice! lol) but I feel as though I have failed to nourish my spirit. I have stopped taking the time to for me, I’m not giving my soul the food that I was giving it a year ago. It’s no wonder I feel like things are slipping away.
    So tonight I revisited the past year. I took some time for ME and I took a little stroll down memory lane. I looked at pictures, I really studied the early pictures and thought about what I was feeling at the time, you know, way back in the beginning when none of us knew what to expect from FTF. I followed my journey through the activities, the meetings, I read the Pledge and I sang the song!

    And do you know what I found? I discovered that FTF wasn’t just something that I participated in for a few months. Being a Model of Heart Health is really important to me. It’s a very big part of who I have become thanks to FTF. It’s something that I am very, very proud of. And when it comes right down to it, I know that despite the challenges of the past several months, it is because of FTF that I have emerged stronger physically, mentally and emotionally than I might have otherwise.

    When I got to the end of the year’s pictures, I looked deep into the eyes of the woman in the red dress and saw such joy! There I found a sense of accomplishment and pride. And I realized that it’s still all within me. All I have to do is awaken it! The next logical step for me, was to surround myself with as many of those things that I could. So just like last year, the pledge is in a prominent spot where I will see it daily, my FB profile picture is changed, I have surrounded myself with POSITIVITY! I am renewing my spirit.

    I am encouraging my sisters to take some “me time” too. I have heard all too often about disappointment, about falling off the wagon and not being where you want to be. Look into the eyes of the woman in the red dress, ladies. I guarantee you will see an accomplished, joyful woman who deserves to be celebrated and honored. And if you aren’t where you want to be, renew your spirit, feed your soul…you know how to do it! You just need to recommit to being your best for yourself!
    With much sisterly love,
    Kat
    Thump thump!

    Reply
  2. May 6, 2013

    It’s been five months since the FTF Diva Spectacular show, and the official end of the grant-sponsored FTF initiative. But is it really the end of Follow the Fifty?? Heck no!!! I am here to tell you that FTF is alive and well, and continues under its own momentum. You see, FTF wasn’t just another weight loss program or health care initiative. FTF lives within the hearts of the women and their coaches and supporters. We were not going to let this thing die. So here we are…. gaining recognition in New York City, taking Facebook by a storm. Cindy Parsons made People magazine and has over 70k hits on the internet for her efforts born out of FTF. Busloads of women taking over the Subway rest stop, New York, flashmob dances, 5k runs already signed up or done. Flashmob in Danielson. Zumba, Planet Fitness, Curves, Swimming, hiking, walking groups, meetings, all going under our own power. The power of one. One group, one sisterhood, one community, one mission. To strive to become more heart healthy everyday and welcome all those who would join us.
    As for me, the skinny clothes I bought in November are all too big. The new pants I bought last month… Too big. The knee that I hobbled around on with a cane, gritting my teeth with each painful step… Gone. Replaced with a brand new knee. Total knee, total transformation. Lots of pain, determination, physical therapy, and the support of my FTF family to get me through. From cane to flashmob dancer in three months. From size 24 this time last year to size 18 pants for the first time in 35 years. Tonight Skip and I are shopping for my red kayak. I am confident we will find the right one for the right price. And that free bike someone gave me…I plan to learn how to ride it soon. After that, I need to start looking at which 5k will be my first. And I may need hiking boots so I can climb that mountain with Darlene Hill…Oh, and that little black dress I bought almost two years ago as an incentive…I wore it to see Linda Colangelo in Man of La Mancha. And yes, it not only fit, it was smokin’ hot. Nah, we never ended. Follow the Fifty has just begun. Thump-thump!

    Reply
  3. December 2, 2012

    Sunday, December 2, 2012…The Day After
    Hello World! We have arrived!

    I am still reeling with emotion after the shows the past two nights. These past months have been nothing less than incredible. This journey has been truly life changing in more ways than I ever would have imagined possible. The experiences, the challenges, the women, the relationships have all enriched my life in so many ways!

    I spent the day today going through some 600 photos that we took at the shows. There were faces full of joy and laughter, tears of happiness, shared commaraderie and so much sisterly love! Then I went back to the “Before” pictures. And Oh My Gosh!!! The changes are incredible. But it’s not just the physical changes. It’s not the noticible weight loss photos (although those are amazing!). What moved me most is the happiness in everyone’s faces, the obvious joy in each model’s eyes….that wasn’t in the before pictures!

    So that got me thinking. Clearly, we are all proud of our own individual accomplishments, whether big or small. But then I started to think about all that I had witnessed over the past few days. It occured to me that what I saw was not models focused on themselves…I saw sisters focused on each other. I heard stories of accomplishment told by one sister about another. I felt an immense sense of pride in what my sisters collectively had accomplished.

    All of this reminiscing got me to thinking again. This time about our motto… “We’ve launched a community counter attack”. Our “Quiet Corner” will never be the same! Not only do they know our name, and our “brand” but they know our message! They recognize that we are not simply a group of women on a quest to improve our own health, but that our goal is to take them along with us, to improve the health of our community overall! And we have….we have educated, encouraged and assisted members of the community to be healthier more active people. We have fed people. We have raised funds and “paid it forward” so that the efforts can continue. That is truly something to be proud of!

    Now here we are. The physical training and healthier diets have paid off. The rehearsals resulted in two nights of successful, exciting, entertaining shows. The confetti has been swept up.The dresses are hung back in the closet. Hmmm, but the curtain didn’t close… THE CURTAIN DIDN’T CLOSE!

    I suspect the next scene will be a bit different. Some of the players will remain the same. I hope to count myself among the continuing cast. The story line will change some, but the message…the message will remain true.
    Hello World, We Have Arrived! <3

    Reply
  4. December 2, 2012

    Wow- our journey has progressed to our identified finish line and what a wonderful finish it was- the Diva Spectacular full of wonderful healthy empowered women! I must say it was a shared journey- so many people to thank…my FTF Sisters and supporters, DKH, NDDH, Generations, the NHLBI, CDC and all our HealthQuest partners. I believe that this initiative shows what private and public partnerships can do- thank you all again!!
    As one of my role models says “It Takes a Village” (Hilary Rodham Clinton).
    Love and continued health and happiness to all of us.
    Betty

    Reply
  5. December 2, 2012

    As I sit here this morning going over everything in my head, and I know I heard the song in my head all night and the pledge. I just want to say what an awesome experience this has been ! Meeting so many of my sisters and wishing I could have sat down and talked to everyone individually it was great ! Meeting and talking and being there for each other it has been a great experience.

    I was so happy last night and so very proud of everyone for all the hard work that has been accomplished. Everyone just looked so beautiful. In the sea of red dresses.

    Thank you to our HealthQuest partners for your support each and every one of you! We will always be grateful!

    Reply
  6. September 26, 2012

    There is a website called RealAge.com that measures your real age in terms of health, not just your chronological age. We can’t change our chronological ages, but we can take control of and change our Real Age. About three years ago, when I was 53 years old, I took this test. It said I was the equivalent of 59 years old. Today I took it again. I will be 56 years old on Saturday. With all the healthy changes I have made with FTF, my Real Age is now 51.8!! Yes, indeed, I am younger than my birth certificate. I would encourage other models, coaches, families and friends to take this test. It’s free and is very revealing. Plus it gives you a hard number to look at. http://www.realage.com.

    Reply
  7. September 24, 2012

    I need to stay on Doxycyline and a couple of other prescriptions for 3 months due to a bad case of Lyme Disease that I mentioned in the blog. Thank goodness my infectious disease specialist treats tick-borne diseases more aggressively than most doctors. I am starting to move again in moderation. My husband and I took a nice canoe ride on the Wauregan Reservoir this weekend and I was able to take a slower paced walk at Saturday’s Ovarian Cancer fundraiser at Hamonassett State Park on the beach in Madison. I was on FTF sister Joanne Nesbitt’s Team MOJO. I recently loss my aunt to ovarian/uterine cancer so I walked in memory of her. It was such a beautiful and sunny day at the beach and Joanne (Chair of the NOCC CT Chapter) and her volunteers did a wonderful job planning the festivities for the day. I love this fall weather filled with sunny days and cool nights. Great for sleeping!

    Reply
  8. August 10, 2012

    Who knew that 6 months ago I would be willing and able to do the Deary Race tomorrow. I am psyched! 🙂

    Reply
  9. August 3, 2012

    Today is a very important day of celebration. Even more than FTF, I have accomplished something. Today is the twelth anniversary of my gastric bypass surgery. I weighed 400 lbs, walked sometimes with a walker, or a cane, even a scooter in the store. I took 15 medications to keep me going, and I was only 44 years old. Friends later told me I was out of breath even on the phone and looked gray. I knew things were bad, but wasn’t aware of how scary it was for my friends to watch me slipping away. Then I decided to do something. I have come so far! The surgery gave me a boost of 150 lbs weight loss. But I have actually lost a total of 175 lbs, or 44 percent of my total body weight. Since FTF I have accomplished so much more. I finally dropped my blood pressure pill plus two others, simply because my body doesn’t need them. Besides my vitamins, I only take a baby aspirin and 4 other pills. And two of them may be on the chopping block soon! I’m 30 pounds lighter than I was last summer and in the best shape ever overall. For me, it really is about slow and steady wins the race. And I won’t go down without a fight!

    Reply
    • August 6, 2012

      Way to go!

      Reply
  10. July 16, 2012

    Thanks for the great day on Saturday! It was the topic of my latest blog at http://www.hearthealthjourny.blogspot.com!!

    Reply
  11. June 23, 2012

    Balance remains the key with my knee. But I’m making progress. I did my weigh in at Curves today and lost 5 lbs. this past month. Yahooooo! Also lost a little in the hips/abs and actually gained a little padding in the top. That is very good thing in my case! lol :-). FTF is starting to rub off on my husband. He has given up his cookies, nutty bars and eats fruit and even cottage cheese! That is the healthiest I have ever seen him eat.
    Being a model of heart health means many things, but mostly it’s about positive change. We’re a heart-health family now.

    Reply
  12. June 17, 2012

    I updated my blog at http://www.corazondelaluz.com
    “I’m so hungry I could eat a salad…if only I didn’t have a sugar hangover”

    Reply
  13. May 30, 2012

    My family and I enjoyed a relaxing and fun night at Mashamoquet State Park with tossing a football, swimming and eating heart healthy items such as grilled corn on the cob, roasted red, yellow, and orange peppers, garden burgers and raw baby carrots. I even meditated by the river and got totally captivated with the river rushing through:) I love this program because it makes you really think and DO:) And how exciting to involve the family:)

    Reply
    • May 31, 2012

      That sounds absolutely wonderful! :>)

      Reply
  14. May 23, 2012

    Read my latest entry at http://www.hearthealthjourny.blogspot.com

    Reply
  15. May 20, 2012

    Today I had the honor of being part of the Relay for Life for the first time and I was definitely not prepared for what an emotional experience it would be.
    While I was celebrating my FTF teammate and my younger sister beating breast cancer and malignant melanoma, I also found myself once again mourning for my dad, my younger brother, a favorite uncle, my closest cousin, and a very dear friend…all lost to cancer.

    Thank you to everyone helping to beat this dreadful disease.

    Reply
  16. May 18, 2012

    I made a new blog post http://corazondelaluz.com/2012/05/19/diagnosis-restless-child-syndrome-also-referred-to-as-restless-husband-syndrome/

    Diagnosis: Restless Child Syndrome (also referred to as Restless Husband Syndrome)

    Reply
    • June 5, 2012

      Michelle, this had me chuckling! I can just picture RJ as busy in his sleep as he is during the day. Too funny! Hope all continues to go well with you!!

      Reply
      • June 21, 2012

        Thanks Betty!

        Reply
  17. May 17, 2012

    Hi Ladies, I just want to let everyone know that I will have a banner for us to hold during the Dragon Boat races that are being held on June 2nd in Norwich Harbor. I happen to know that a couple of our models will be aboard the Day Kimball boat, so we can cheer them on! I regret that by the time that I was able to get everything together and check out the competition it was too late to register a team for FTF, but there is always next year! We can still show up in our red shirts and cheer on our sisters!
    I would also like to ask if anyone is interested in helping plant the Deary Memorial Garden @ JD Coopers on Saturday May 19th. If so, please show up @ JD Coopers in Putnam with a trowel, the Dempsey Greenhouse will provide the plants. It’s a great experience and really beautiful to see when you are there in August for the road race event!
    Thank you!

    Reply
    • May 18, 2012

      Yay!! I’m one of the models on the boat, can’t wait! Hope to see you there!!!

      Reply
      • May 23, 2012

        I’ll be there and I hope to get others to join me. We will have a banner for FTF to hold up to cheer you on! Please ask your team members who are not participating to join me in holding up the banner! We have a number of models from Day Kimball who will be participating also. Let’s have a sea of Red Shirts cheering you all on!

        Reply
        • May 24, 2012

          I will certainly let them know 🙂

          Reply
          • May 27, 2012

            I will be there! What time should we meet and where? Really looking forward to it. The Norwich waterfront is a truly lovely spot!

  18. May 16, 2012

    Just had to share this…eating breakfast out can be a real challenge but the Main St. Grille in downtown Putnam is now offering “Follow the Fifty” specials. I had yesterday’s FTF breakfast and it was delicious…a one-egg omelette with diced peppers, tomatoes, spinach, and scallions (which really bulked it up enough to feel like you really had an omelette), plus one slice of whole grain toast and a lovely dish of fresh fruit. It was great!

    Reply
    • May 17, 2012

      How nice!! Come on other towns in NE CT – let’s all get healthy menus!!
      I love to eat healthy 🙂

      Reply
    • May 18, 2012

      I love Main Street Grille!

      Reply
    • May 24, 2012

      Main St. Grille is the BEST! Always fresh ingredients!!!

      Reply
  19. May 16, 2012

    This poem was submitted anonymously to Follow the Fifty and we just had to share its beautiful and empowering message. Thanks to all who take the time to speak from the heart:

    AT THE HEART

    Every day is a gift
    More than the last
    To grasp with both hands
    With thanks and new hope

    Dawn brings new chance
    To change what I can
    The choices are mine
    It’s within my reach

    None of it is simple
    If it were it’d be done
    Resolve is the challenge
    Commitment, the burden

    But there is one harder
    A wall still to climb
    I’m frozen by its power
    It’s the fear that I’ll fail

    Will I find the strength
    To put my heart first
    To push past what is easy
    To take back what is mine

    The hurdles are high
    To jump all alone
    But now I am not
    A hand lifts me up

    Now there are more
    Many like me
    Who want to live longer
    And find a new path

    The many give comfort
    Spread hope to each one
    To push to that place
    Where we deserve to be

    The power is inside
    It was there all along
    We free each other
    To find a new me

    Our fears are the same
    To trip or to fall
    But new wings have sprung
    To soar to the sky

    Each walk, run or ride
    Is our journey within
    We choose a new path
    We live a new life

    We feel the strength
    The power hums in our limbs
    We celebrate each climb
    Many lights shine as one

    As the spirits align
    We know our true hearts
    We changed forever
    When “I” became “we”

    Reply
  20. May 13, 2012

    Mother’s Day 2012! I have been a Mother for over 29 years now and this Mother’s Day I started it off by running with my daughter and coach Sharie; I have never, ever started a Mother’s Day like that before, and it felt amazing! In these past six weeks there have been a few other firsts and some renewed commitments to healthy behaviors. I have tried racquetball; thanks to my amazing teammate, Pauline; I have given up wine and all alcohol; not a drop since Apr. 18th, I am running, actually running 🙂 logging my food journal, have convinced my boss to make some heart healthy changes at work; we now have a fruit bowl instead of a candy dish and have exercise balls to sit on optionally in our offices…yeah life is good and I am grateful for the motivation and structure provided by the Follow the Fifty team, and the support of my wonderful and beautiful co-models!!!

    Reply
    • May 18, 2012

      Awesome!

      Reply
      • May 23, 2012

        Awww…thanks Michelle!!! I feel so blessed for this opportunity to meet and connect with people, such as you, in our community through this amazing endeavor! Good to see you last night…looking forward to Thursday 🙂

        Reply
  21. May 6, 2012

    It has been a busy couple of weeks. I continue to exercise daily. I do not do the same thing every day, but my change that I have been working on for the last 2 and a half weeks is to get moving every day. Walking, swimming…I have even tried biking (you really never forget.) Dancing and doing more for myself. I am making a real effort to not have anyone in my house do things for me. If I want something I have to move to get it. That seems like such a simple idea. It really is nessary for me to move alot more than I had been. I often fell into the habit of having some one else do for me. Justifying that I was too busy to get a glass of water or too busy sewing to stop and go downstairs and get the laundry. If I am moving, really moving I will continue to lose weight not just because I changed my diet, but because I am no longer sedentary. I have to take care of me. I have to move. If I do not, I won’t achieve my goals. Being active and choosing the right foods – in the right portions – it’s all part of taking care of myself.

    Reply
    • May 13, 2012

      Julie,
      Progress not perfection, every small improvement leads to another! Keep up the little changes every day, over time you will see the bigger changes!

      Reply
  22. May 5, 2012

    I’ve got a new blog entry! Here is the link: http://www.hearthealthjourny.blogspot.com.
    Hope you like it!

    Reply
  23. May 5, 2012

    I moved my blog because I wanted to be able to put photos up sometimes. Here is my latest post
    Either My Sports Bra is Too Tight or I Think I have Pneumonia
    http://corazondelaluz.com/2012/05/05/either-my-sports-bra-is-too-tight-or-i-think-i-have-pneumonia/

    Reply
    • May 6, 2012

      Now that is creative!

      Reply
      • May 8, 2012

        Thanks! Let me know what you think!

        Reply
  24. May 4, 2012

    Celebrating tangible results! When I went to the kick off program in March, my blood pressure was 132/90 (and that’s WITH medication!). I had it checked at the program in Thompson on Monday – 120/60! Four weeks of more exercise and better eating is paying off!
    Now the challenge is to continue on the healthy road I’ve started – who knows where this journey will lead?! Keep on keeping on, ladies!

    Reply
    • May 4, 2012

      Seeing results is so encouraging, way to go!!!

      Reply
    • May 4, 2012

      WOOHOO:)

      Reply
      • May 4, 2012

        I second that!

        Reply
    • May 8, 2012

      Good for you!!! Keep up the good work!! You can do it!

      Reply
    • May 10, 2012

      Wow! Excellent news! Cheering you on!

      Reply
  25. May 2, 2012

    Hello Follow the Fifty Models and Volunteers,
    Wow, it was a true delight to be a part of Monday evening’s program. Collectively, you are a force of good health and well-being for the whole community. Individually, you each inspire others to follow the same path.

    All of us at the Community Foundation’s Women & Girls Fund wish you the best of luck on this wonderful journey!

    With gratitude, Kip Parker

    Reply
    • May 8, 2012

      Thank you so much for your support Kip, and that of the CFWGF!! We are so fortunate to have community partners like you in our “Quiet Corner”! 🙂

      Reply
  26. May 2, 2012

    Hi everyone! I don’t know if this has been mentioned before but myfitnesspal.com is an excellent way to track your calories each meal. You put your info in and find out what the right amount of calories per day for you is. Then you just enter what you eat each meal and it subtracts and leaves you with what you have left for the day. It’s great! And it is also an app for your smart phone so you can take it with you on your day. Hope it’s helpful!!

    Reply
  27. May 1, 2012

    Last night’s event was a breath of fresh air for me. It was my first big outing since having abdominal surgery a week ago. I was feeling a little down with not being able to do my workouts and even walking was hard. I did do some of the movement exercises and felt better than I had in a week. Also being with all the FTF models and talking with one of my teammates made me feel better too! I was not as sore this morning as I have been on previous mornings. Now I feel more energy and focus again, something that I have lacked in the last week. I go for my post surgery check up on Thursday and hopefully I will be healed enough to start my treadmill walking and some weight training.

    Reply
  28. May 1, 2012

    Well, HELLO WORLD!!

    Yesterday I did not feel like going to last nights event. For the last 10 days or so I have not felt like doing much. I have struggled with multiple issues in my family, job, finances and such. I was done… My son was upset that I was leaving again last night and didn’t want me to go but I made the decision that I needed to go. Thank God I did. You all, without knowing, have boosted me back up into believing I am worth my efforts. Even though my effort has been in the negative digits for these 10 days or so, I am recommitted after last night. I am some how going to find the funds to get myself some training and get my body and mind heading in the right direction. I am going to use my new Yoga mat and video as well. I have known Amy Williams from attending the martial arts classes at Midtown but have never been able to afford classes with her. She is AMAZING!!!! That is my birthday wish for this year; to have her as a trainer. I am not sure if anyone else was moved in the same way I was, but her relaxation exercise moved me to tears last night. It truly centered my mind and I now crave that more than ever. I look forward to seeing my teammates and everyone else in the future at events, on the trails or in the grocery store. We are all blessed. Thank you to everyone who has made this possible.

    Reply
    • May 1, 2012

      I’m so glad you made it. I know how you feel. But I made the other decision to not attend. I was so exhausted this week that I was in bed before 8 pm. And I came home early today and took a nap. Sometimes, learning how to take care of yourself means figuring out when to say yes, and when to say no. It is not always an easy decision. I lost out by not going, but my body needs rest this week.

      Reply
      • May 2, 2012

        Aurele, I absolutely agree with you regarding the decisions that are best for you. Know that you were missed by all of us, but the power was so strong that night that as you slept, you were washed with our strength to empower you when you woke.

        Reply
    • May 1, 2012

      Kris … so glad you talked yourself into going last night and that it helped to lift your heart and spirit. I read this great quote today and was thinking of another of our FTF members who is struggling, but maybe it will mean something to you as well. “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, she became a butterfly” … We are a very powerful group!

      Reply
      • May 2, 2012

        Thank you Linda, I may write that on my bathroom mirror so I see it every morning.

        Reply
    • May 2, 2012

      Kris, so happy to hear that you were able to get out your funk… we all get into them from time to time, and for all different reasons. The next time you feel yourself headed that way, reach out….you have your teammates and 171 new friends to lean on!

      Reply
    • May 2, 2012

      Good for you Kris! And many of us understand the struggle to afford classes or make the time for exercise when kids would rather we stay with them. Just some info for you that some of us have found helpful…one, lots of our models are doing free exercise like walking, biking, hiking or running together. There are many places in our region that are great for any of those, and we have a great time. Feel free to send out a request on Facebook to ask who is doing these activities any day of the week. Also, many of us do these activities with our kids. It helps show them healthy behavior, and lets us spend time with them while we exercise. Just some thoughts!!

      Reply
  29. April 26, 2012

    I am offering this service to any FTF peeps. I am a Reiki Master and would love to work on anyone who needs some relaxation. I have a healing room in my house and would be honored to work on any of you gals:)

    Reply
    • April 26, 2012

      It would be free, so there is something in the world for free:)

      Reply
      • April 26, 2012

        That sounds like a great opportunity. Thanks

        Reply
      • April 27, 2012

        That is a wonderful offer! I’ve been dealing with a multitude of health issues since having an anaphylactic reaction in Nov. Do you think Reiki could help me handle the stress of being out of work and dealing with ongoing medical procedures? I’m determined to stay positive and focusing on the FTF program has been a great help…both physically and mentally.

        Reply
        • April 29, 2012

          This is a great offer! You are amazing. I am sure I will be contacting you soon.

          Reply
        • April 30, 2012

          It will help with what ever ails you. Needed to put my phone number on this 860-315-0045.

          Reply
      • April 30, 2012

        Thank you…I am a reiki master too and have a portable table if you ever need a hand.

        Reply
    • April 28, 2012

      I would love to have Reiki done. When would you be able to do it?

      Reply
      • April 30, 2012

        Please seek me out, I will be at Tourtellotte this evening with my calendar for all to book time with me:) I am very excited to help my sisters in FTF:)

        Reply
      • May 1, 2012

        Call me! My number is above 🙂

        Reply
  30. April 24, 2012

    I can’t believe how easy it has been to change my eating habits. The old me would only eat breakfast on Saturdays, snack on what I assumed were healthy foods during the day, and had a big dinner every night. Oh, and I would only drink one cup of coffee per day…that is, one cup of coffee that I would constantly top off to make it warm. Each time I added coffee to my cup, I would add more sugar and cream whether I needed it or not. If I wasn’t drinking coffee, I always had a glass of soda. Nighttime was the worse, I would wake up hungry and munch on cheese, crackers, etc. Some mornings I would wake up with an empty bag of potato chips beside my bed (apparently I was sleep eating). I knew this was wrong, my husband kept telling me this was wrong. I just kept convincing myself that I was doing no harm to myself. I certainly was not overweight, how could this be bad for me? Well, my numbers tell me differently. Cholesterol levels that are dangerous, high blood pressure for over 26 years and smoking. These are NOT good things! On March 1, 2012, my life changed. I received my email, welcoming me as a member of the FTF Models. I almost declined when I realized I would have to get up early and be at the kick-off at 7:00 AM. (lol) I said, is it really worth it? I want to sleep! Then, I realized that if I didn’t do something about my habits and learn to be healthier, I would be sleeping forever in very short order. So, from March 1, 2012 until March 31, 2012, I made peace with myself. I made peace with all of those bad foods I enjoyed. I didn’t stop eating those foods right away. What I did was this…I would toast that English muffin, smother it with butter, enjoy a few bites and quietly say goodbye as I finished it off. I did this whenever I found myself eating the foods I knew that I would not be able to eat anymore, if I wanted to get healthy. It was a grieving process. I took the time to say goodbye and make peace. I’m not sure, but I think that this process that I went through was a good thing. I am not missing any of that junk. Soda has gone into my body once since the 31st and it wasn’t enjoyable.

    My eating habits have changed. I read labels. My meals are planned each night for the following day and I stick to it. Only good foods are entering my body. There are no midnight binges. I feel energized after a healthy breakfast. My energy level is still up after my lunch. The exhaustion is gone. No more lying around the couch after work. I am exercising daily! It is amazing how a change in diet and physical activity can change a person. Who knew? I guess, deep down I knew, I just needed the motivation. Being part of this amazing group of women has been such an inspiration to me. I am so grateful to ALL OF YOU!

    Now, my next mission…tackling the nicotine habit. Becoming a member of the Freedom From Smoking program is the first step I have taken toward this goal. I am going to approach the next step in the same way I dealt with changing my eating habits, to make peace with the cigarettes, say goodbye and then get on with the mourning process. I have done it before. I WILL do it again. This time it will be for keeps!

    Reply
    • April 29, 2012

      Great job, Brenda!
      Cheering you on!

      Reply
    • April 30, 2012

      Great Job!

      Reply
  31. April 22, 2012

    As I sit here, 5 weeks into the program, I can’t believe that I was so afraid to start this. I remember hearing Linda on WINY one morning, talking about this program and recruiting applicants. I remember thinking, “This is what I need.” I sat on it for a few days, debating with myself. “Do I want to get healthy? I don’t want to know anything about this disease. What I don’t know won’t hurt me. Ignorance is Bliss!” Soon after this little mini debate with myself, my daughter asked me to kick a ball around the front yard with her. I told her I was too tired. WAKE UP CALL! Next think I knew, I was applying to be a model and so happy I did. During the waiting process, I kept getting nervous. I expressed to my husband that I was afraid I wouldn’t get picked. He looked at the list of criteria and said, “Rest assured….you are IN!”

    I can’t tell you how happy I was to hear the all of the applicants were accepted. This was my chance! I cried when I got my email. I am so happy to be part of this wonderful group of women. We have been such a great support system.

    I would like to share a little bit of my background at this time. I am a 48 year old (almost 49). I have three children, two boys ages 26 and 19 from my first marriage and a 6 year old daughter with my current and final marriage (we are in this for keeps). My husband, Joe, and I got married in our early 40s. He was a confirmed bachelor, with no children. I told him I was up to having one more, but we couldn’t wait too long. BOOM! Lily was conceived. I was on top of the world, until I started thinking. What have I done? It is so unfair to this little baby. I am too old to be having another child. I won’t be here for her wedding, I would be here to see her have children. If I am still alive, I will be so old and out of shape, I will be useless to her.

    It doesn’t help matters when I think about the age difference between my oldest and youngest child. They are 20 years apart, so it is easy for me to add 20 years to Lily’s age and 20 to mine and realize that if I am this tired and out of shape now, what good am I going to be to my daughter when she is my son’s age? I don’t want to miss a thing with her (or any of my children and grandchildren). I guess I concentrate on her, because she is my baby and so young. I am still here for my boys as they have reached adulthood. Will I be here for my daughter when she is an adult?

    My father had his first heart attack and bypass surgery before the age of 55. He had more surgery 10 years later and another heart attack 2 years ago. It was HELL to see him go through this. I couldn’t stand the thought of losing my father. I don’t EVER want to put my children through this. Heart disease is one of the diseases that we can control. We have a say! If we change our eating habits, exercise and live right, we can manage this!

    So, as I was saying in the beginning, I was in denial. I didn’t want to know anything. I changed my mind, when I realized that I can either go on living or go on dying. I want to live for as long as possible. I want to get my cholesterol levels under control. I want to get my blood pressure under control. I want to feel alive when I wake up every morning, instead of dreading getting through the day. I want to quit smoking!

    Another reason I want to be part of this program is that I have my eyes on this great pair of red heels, but nothing to wear with them. Therefore, I can’t justify buying them. BUT, I figure when our journey ends in December (not really ending for me, I plan on keeping on keeping on), I plan on rewarding myself with a beautiful red dress..therefore, justifying the purchase of the heels. (Only kidding!)

    Thank you all for your support! I have been enjoying this program so much already. I have reconnected with many old acquaintances and have made many NEW friends!

    I can’t wait to see what the rest of our journey holds in store!

    Reply
    • April 23, 2012

      Awesome post! You should bring the heels to our meetings. Now I am even more determined to be part of your journey!

      Reply
    • April 28, 2012

      Brenda, I share some of your history, and certainly your sentiments about your child. My father’s first heart attack was at 18, and he had 10 more before he died at 43. The heart disease was brought on by uncontrolled diabetes. I grew up watching how chronic disease takes a hold of a life, and a home. I never wanted my son to go through the same thing, but have let certain health conditions start to take hold of my life. I’m determined to stop that, and be here for him not just for now, but for many years in the future. This is the hardest subject for me to face in this whole challenge…the effect my health, or lack thereof, has on my son. It’s why you saw me misty-eyed in the launch video, and pretty much any time I talk about it. I WILL face this challenge, as will you…and on fashion show night, we’ll look back and say, “That’s the day my life changed.”

      Reply
  32. April 22, 2012

    Today is my dearest friend and “little sister’s” birthday. We are sisters of the heart, not biological sisters, but no one could be more dear to me than she is.

    On the day of the FTF kickoff she was hospitalized and spent 5 days in ICU…you guessed it cardiac issues! Ironically, she is almost the same age that I was when I started to have issues. I have to admit it….I’m scared for her. She’s not getting answers, and to know what she is going through is just killing me. I feel like I’m caught between a rock and a hard place. I don’t want to project my fears on her, but at the same time I have this need to protect her and try to make it better.

    The really hard part is that while I have always been the laid back, more sedentary one, she is at the gym atleast 5 days a week, staying fit, staying strong! How could this happen to her?

    I know that this is where genes come in. She has a lousy family history. But she never thought it would haunt her because she was doing everything right. And now it has reared it’s ugly head, made its presence known and is doing a pretty good job of scaring the daylights out of us!

    We are scared…but not paralyzed.

    I wrote her a note today for her birthday that I wanted to share because I know that we ALL have someone that we are concerned about. So maybe the timing for she and I to go through this is significant, I don’t know. But I do know that this experience, this chance to share this very private part of my life with so many of you who are opening your hearts and doing the same thing is just…(continued in next comment)

    Reply
    • April 22, 2012

      (continued from previous comment)

      (ooops the tears got in the way the way there)

      …SO EMPOWERING! It is just beyond anything I ever imagined this would be.
      Maybe today, whether it is someone’s birthday or maybe an anniversary or hey, just because it’s TODAY, we should all take a minute to write a note of love and concern. I know it was hard to do….but I’m glad I did. And most importantly I’m glad I was given a second chance and the opportunity to do it!

      “Today is your birthday!! YAY!! I hope you have a wonderful, joy-filled day. But…I am asking for a present on your birthday this year…I want you to promise me that you will take better care of yourself in the year to come, to put yourself first, and make Tammy a priority. You see, you scared the crap out of me recently…you know what I’m talking about, too. And you can’t just say ‘Oh I’m fine,” and expect me to be ok with that because I’ve been in your shoes and you know it! I love you; you are the baby sister that God let me choose…and just like I have committed to taking care of myself this year and making changes for my life, I need you to do the same. I find it ironic that at the very time I am committing to a heart healthy lifestyle, and celebrating that decision, you were hospitalized and discovering that you have a problem. It’s not just about working out and being fit….it’s about finding the root of the problem and dealing with it …and yeah, it’s scary and it sucks! Remember how you felt when I got the AICD and then had the endarteretomy??? That’s how I feel now…I want you to take care of yourself…I want to make it all better but I can’t. So I need for you to give me a gift this year…the gift of you. I love you sis..and I will be here for you every step of the way.”

      Reply
      • April 28, 2012

        Absolutely beautiful. I hope she returns such a precious gift by listening.

        Reply
  33. April 21, 2012

    I’m trying my hand at keeping a blog of the next few months. Check it out at http://www.hearthealthjourny.blogspot.com.”

    I know I spelled “journey” (journy) wrong but it was because there was another blog that had the same name.

    Reply
  34. April 20, 2012

    So when I started this journey with everyone else I had no idea what to expect and I was so nervous. When I got to the event and saw everyone I instantly forgot that my morning ice coffee had not been poured into my body. I was up and energized onstage dancing like a crazy woman. It was only natural that I became my team captain because I am shy and lack social skills. LOL

    Since that day I have brought together a great group of women to form the Follow the Fifty Ladies Relay for Life Team. We have had an amazing group of ladies walking every Monday at the Putnam Elementary School track.

    All I can say is that sodium and fat are my enemies. I did not realize how much sodium I was consuming in a day until I started to track it.

    I am 27 years old and realized that even though I have a clean bill of health that if I am not more conscious of what I’m putting in my body I won’t have that bill of heath so clean in 10 or 15 years.

    Thank you FTF Ladies

    Reply
    • April 22, 2012

      Cheering you on!
      Dawn M. Morin

      Reply
  35. April 20, 2012

    I’m a little frustrated right now because my bad knee is acting up and I can’t get an appointment for 3 weeks. In the meantime, my knee swells up when I go to Curves or walk. So my progress is slowing down. All I can do is keep doing my daily best until it heals.
    But I’ll be at the make-up kick-off session tonight!

    Reply
  36. April 19, 2012

    So, it’s been 2 1/2 weeks since the kick off. I am so glad I decided to take part in this effort because everyday I remind myself that there is an end date. There truly is a day that what I have done and not done will be measured. I have been on a million diets, started a million different fitness routines, quit smoking over and over, but because no one held me accountable or measured my success…it was easy to put it all on hold. Accountability is a big thing for me. I don’t like to fail at things that others are paying attention to.

    My biggest issues affecting my heart health are weight, smoking and stress. I have never been thin – I think I was born a size 8 at least! I’m now a size 16. My BMI is high (shocking news, I know). My goal is 25 lbs by the wrap up and lower my BMI. There are other health challenges in the way such as metabolic syndrome, an auto immune disorder (my doctor states “90% sure it’s Lupus”) and fibromyalgia. These three things together often make it uncomfortable to exercise. Additionally, a lumbar fusion a year and a half ago didn’t quite solve the problem. So, even if the other three are fine, chances are the back is not. I have resolved to walking during my 30 minute lunch break at work at least 4 days a week (I believe in leaving room for error) and to be as active on the weekends as I can be. I’m also eating healthier, avoiding sugars and carbs (even though I love sugar and carbs…especially when you combine them and make a jelly donut!)

    I started smoking when I was 17 years old. I have quit what seems like a thousand times. I’m 40 this May (ugh)…do the math. The one thing that worked really well for me is Chantix. It works great until I stop taking it. Then, the hamster on the wheel in my brain runs and runs and runs until I take just one drag. I keep thinking that perhaps hypnosis would work as it feels more like a psychological addiction than a physical addiction. The hamster truly just won’t stop running! In an addiction class in college, they discussed the reward-reinforcement pathway and how a substance changes the way your brain functions. When you take in the substance (caffeine, nicoteine, cocaine, heroin, any addictive substance), your brain rewards your body. This is why when you try to ignore the craving for any of those, even sugar, you can feel out of sorts. Your brain is punishing you. I’ve decided to take part in Michelle Rawcliff’s program at Woodstock Academy on Sunday evenings in hopes that being held accountable will help!

    Stress… well… there are aspects of my past that can be considered traumatic. Years and years ago, I was diagnosed with PTSD. Research indicate that adults who experienced a certain amount of trauma in their childhood carry around higher levels of cortisol than adults who had less or no trauma. Cortisol is often referred to as the “stress hormone”. Although I have some really great strategies for dealing with stress…it seems stress just finds me sometimes. And then the stress leads to the smoking and eating of donuts…vicious cycle! Learning to toss things out of my control into the universe and letting them fall where they may has been very useful. Recognizing that the only people I am responsible for in any way is myself and my son has helped me to keep my load manageable. Accepting that I do the best I can and give the most I can at all times helps me to feel better about myself and my performance.

    If any of you struggle with the same risk factors, I’m curious about how you plan to combat these issues? What are your strategies? What are the challenges?

    Reply
    • April 21, 2012

      I am going to be cheering on your efforts to stop smoking! It’ll make a huge difference for you! Check out the NPR article link that I posted on the Facebook FTF page!

      Dawn

      Reply
    • April 21, 2012

      I can’t wait for Sunday! What an awesome post! Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
    • April 30, 2012

      Hi Kerry….what is the program at Woodstock Academy?

      Reply
  37. April 19, 2012

    I’ve started a weekly “report card” that is sent to my cheerleaders. Here is my first one:

    Sue Foster Follow the Fifty model

    Report Card – Week ending April 7th

    Exercise:

    – Walking, 5 times
    – Aquacize, 3 times
    – Yoga, 1
    Weight lost: 2 pounds

    Really – who thought that Holy Week was a good time for a minister to begin a new health and fitness routine??

    Nonetheless, I feel like I got off to a pretty good start. Some changes that I have made – I put up a white board to keep track of my weekly exercise and meals. Roger and Rachel are also recording their exercise on it. We are trying for at least 30 minutes/day.

    A victory – I received some bad news (at work) that made me teary. My first response was “I want chocolate.” But instead, I took a short break from work and went for a walk. This felt like a new behavior for me – I’m going to try to learn healthier responses to bad/sad news.

    However – when I went grocery shopping, I bought a bag of Hershey kisses. And then ate them. All. And enjoyed them. Hmmm….

    Grade for the week: “B” – for some good efforts and positive changes, but points off for all that chocolate!

    Reply
    • April 19, 2012

      Great job, Sue!
      Signed,
      A fellow chocoholic! 😉

      Dawn M. Morin

      Reply
    • April 20, 2012

      Great start, Sue! Now don’t “beat yourself up” for the slip. Remember what Linda said on opening day, “If you make a mistake, …just get back to it.” Life happens, and we all deal with it differently. You did a great job NOT buying 5 bags of kisses!!!
      You’re in my thoughts.

      Reply
    • April 30, 2012

      What a great idea Sue! A report card! Thanks, I may try it! Where do you go to aquacize?

      Reply
  38. April 18, 2012

    Without this program I know I would have never gotten healthy. Even at my doctors urging it just seemed to be too much to take on. I’ve tried before and never got anywhere with it. I don’t like to exercise and I like to eat what I want. When Follow The Fifty came along, I said, “This is it. This is my chance, this is just what I need….49 other women in the same boat as me. Maybe we can exercise and get together and discuss a plan of action.” I was so glad to be chosen. And I was totally blown away!!!! The kickoff was awesome…and the support is overwhelming. The friendships and camaraderie even better! And now, I have 176 other women to help me and I’m here to help them. They are counting on me as I am counting on myself to succeed; to make this program a success, to make everyone proud and best of all, to make myself healthy!!! Prior to this program I was hating the future. I was seeing myself as a big blimp sitting in a chair unable to move due to arthritis and other painful ailments. Not anymore! I want to thank Linda and all those who took the initiative to get the grant for this program. You are my HEROES!!!! Thanks from the heart!

    Reply
    • April 20, 2012

      Kathy, you’re doing amazing!!!!

      Reply
    • April 25, 2012

      Well said! It’s becoming a beautiful sisterhood and we really are here for each other.

      Reply
    • April 25, 2012

      Hi Kathy,
      I read your blog, I too have RA. Found out 5 years ago. It’s been a long road. Have great doctors and the right meds. Lost 56 lbs and joined FTF to get through the last 25 lbs, and get my numbers in the right range. I am pleased to say I met with my doctor yesterday and my bad cholesterol is down 60 points in the past 3 months!!!!! Thanks to FTT and my coach and walking partner. Ruth

      Reply
      • May 1, 2012

        Wow! What exciting news! Congratulations!

        Reply
  39. April 18, 2012

    Today has been a bit difficult. Not as bad as yesterday, so I know things are getting better. I only ate when it was planned. I drank most of the water for the day. I have been walking and checking things off my list. Every day I have a list of things to do. If I get 1 or 2 items off that list I am doing ok. That’s my gauge. Yesterday, nothing came off my list and of course more items were added to my list. Feeling overwhelmed had been part of every day for a long time. That feeling had disapeared for a few weeks as I started exercising and eating better. I exercised the day before but not that day. I had no stress relief. Exercise relieves my stress. I have come to realize that is the reason I haven’t felt overwhelmed. Up until that day I had been exercising every day. Not always in the gym or even doing the strength training but moving much more than I had been. I guess I hadn’t thought about why I felt so good. If just moving more helps out my mood as well as decrease my weight, why did I wait so long to do this? I know I must have heard at some point in time that exercise elevates the mood and increases energy. I’m left wondering why I didn’t believe it when I heard it. It really is true. When I am active I feel better all around. That is why this day has been better than yesterday. Further, it is why tomorrow will be better than today. This is what healthy feels like.

    Reply
    • April 18, 2012

      Julie,
      Thank you for sharing such personal thoughts. How brave you are to do so, but also to acknowledge that you have the power to make change. It is so easy to say “not today,” or “I just don’t feel like it.” We have a million reasons to not do the hard work, or make the hard choices…but only one to do what is good for us. The one reason is your one heart. You only get one in life (usually!), and I applaud you for saying “Tomorrow will be better.” Stay with it Julie, every time you move you’re adding time to your life. And you’re right, that IS what health feels like! 🙂

      Reply
  40. April 18, 2012

    I love the Fitbook journals. They are designed to help you record the same kind of food info consistently and also your exercise so you can notice what works and what doesn’t and also don’t have to spend too much time writing in it trying to remember what to put down. It comes with its own pen so if you leave it on the curly ring-binder (can’t figure what else to call it) you will always have a pen to write in your food journal. Check them out at http://www.getfitbook.com/
    I bought mine at Target. You can also order them online.

    Reply
  41. April 15, 2012

    FTF Blog: Day 7 Week Two UBUNTU: I am because we are.

    Did you ever notice that the red dress pin looks a bit like an angel? I bet some marketing genius did this intentionally but when I got my pin on Saturday I felt like my heart had little angel wings attached. In fact, I felt like tiny little angel wings carried me through the first week. They made my feet feel light on the treadmill, they pushed my butt out of bed in the morning, they made my lunges deeper. I was so excited to tell everyone about FTF especially my coach and mentor. The angel wings of a bigger movement carried me through the first week. The electricity I felt in every cell of my body is the collective power of Ubuntu.

    I know this awesome family, The McGlamery’s through YMCA Camp Woodstock. Last summer they taught me that Ubuntu is an African philosophy that loosely translated means, I am because we are. According to Wikipedia, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela and even Madonna have talked about Ubuntu. At the Follow the Fifty kick off it hit me, this is why this will work, Linda Colangelo and her team is Ubuntu. We are because they are.

    Since the Follow The Fifty kickoff, I have experienced Ubuntu and reflected on it daily. I am because we are. It was so much easier to eat healthier and go to the gym these past two weeks because I didn’t feel alone. Being part of a bigger movement is liberating. I am not getting yelled at by Charlie my coach for just me, I am a model. I am not eating only half of one amazing homemade chocolate chip cookie that our culinary students bake for just me, I am a model. The bigger reason outweighs all my excuses (“but the students worked so hard like giant Keebler Elves, I have to eat them.” “Charlie, I’m going to puke.”) I am because we are.

    I also began to notice that I have had support all along, Ubuntu was always there on my heart health journey even before the kick off. I always had people and things who kept me eating healthier and exercising harder. For example my mentor, Carol, even before she was my mentor was so consistent at the gym that when she isn’t there, I suspect that the universe is off kilter. The guys who do circuit training at 5:15am who cheer me on and make me laugh. My friend Tracy who trained herself in three years to be an elite tri-athlete by setting small goals, watching youtube videos and hard work. The women I work out with: one who is trying to fit in her wedding dress, another who shows the arc trainer who’s boss every day for 24-48 minutes or the other who has lost twelve pounds since January. Our family friend who is running the Boston Marathon to raise money for Retts Syndrome research and because her daughter has Retts. She runs because her daughter can’t walk but our friend has hope that someday she will. My dad who is trying to control his diabetes on a google diet (myfitnesspal.com but he can only get there by googling it). Trying to keep up with my JV softball team when we do fitness.

    There are even more I may not even talk to that inspire me and push me to who I want to be like the two tiny girls at the gym (who for the longest time I thought were the same person) who lift freakishly large weights and laugh when Charlie asks them if they are using the 10lb weights. The people at work who always eat just salad for lunch. Team Hoyt. Michelle Obama.

    I also think that Ubuntu also means I am because we were. Unfortunately this is most evident in the collection of injuries I have incurred over the past 30 plus years. It also means being grateful for what I have now and what got me to this point. I am trying to find the athlete from my past. As I do, I am conjuring up all the various coaching I have had in the past. Work hard, keep your head in the game. I can’t let the athlete I was in the past down. I am because I was.

    Finally, part of Ubuntu is ensuring the community around us is the healthiest it can possibly be. I find joy in cheering on my fellow models. I still haven’t figured out what exactly I will do to contribute to the constant flow of Ubuntu I see around me but I will. I am because we are.

    Reply
    • April 18, 2012

      I get this. It makes so much sense to me. Thank you for putting it so well.

      Reply
      • April 19, 2012

        Thanks!

        Reply
    • April 19, 2012

      Beautiful post, Michelle! I’m cheering you on!

      Reply
  42. April 11, 2012

    I cut my potato root out of the couch, everyday when I am moving I remember “This is how healthy feels!”:)

    Reply
    • April 19, 2012

      That potato root can be strong! Glad you’re stronger, Heidi! I love that I’m with you on yet another journey in health: from your boobs to our hearts 🙂

      Reply
      • April 23, 2012

        Just note the boobs are by the heart hahahhahaha:) Glad we can walk on both journeys together:)

        Reply
  43. April 8, 2012

    It’s Easter Sunday. A holiday surrounded by family and friends and food…always so much food, and usually not the uber-healthy kind, either. But, this year, it’s different. This year, I’m a model, and while, I DID let my kids eat chocolate for breakfast, I didn’t munch a chocolate bunny with a jelly bean chaser. Instead, I stuck to hard boiled eggs, low-fat turkey sausage and skim milk.

    This year, instead of serving appetizers like stuffed mushrooms, chips and dip and lots of other typical high-calorie, high-fat selections, I’m a model. I set out a lovely tray of high-fiber mini multigrain crackers, a wonderful vanilla goat cheese coated in blueberries, fresh green beans and raw almonds.

    And, while we did have a ham…because it’s just not Easter without a ham…it was nitrate-free, low-salt and I did not add any sugar glaze to it. (You know those little choices add up!) I served delicious roasted brussel sprouts and garlic roasted oven potatoes, which were both drizzled with some grape seed oil, known for its ability to increase HDL levels of cholesterol. My fabulous coach, Wendy, and her family shared this special meal with us and she was a model, too, bringing a healthful asparagus dish and a non-fat, sugar-free dessert. My plate was two-thirds veggies and it wasn’t a big deal because they were so tasty and filling.

    We did indulge in dessert, but, for me, it came down to portion sizes for this course. My mom had brought an angel food cake, which I love, but I only had half a slice and I topped it with only a tablespoon of fresh peaches and low-fat whipped cream. I had only a sliver-slice of that delicious fat and sugar free pie that Wendy brought. All of this was accompanied by organic, decaf green tea. Yum!

    I stood up from the dinner table, satisfied, but not over-stuffed, alert and not at all sluggish, and ready-to-go! Then, we began a new tradition, foregoing the usual routine of sitting and gabbing for an hour or two, Wendy, her dad, my daughter and I set off for the trails at Bigelow Hollow, and met up with one of my faithful cheerleaders, Anne, and two of her sons. We enjoyed the fresh air, the beauty of a scenic state park, and each other’s company just as much as if we’d sat at the table, but we did so while on a two-and-half hour hike!

    I will admit that the first half-hour or so of the loop was really challenging, full of steep pathways, and a LOT of heavy breathing on my part. (I tried telling the kids that I was just doing a wicked cool Darth Vader impression, but they weren’t buying it.) Once I got acclimated to the hike, and once Anne gave me a great walking stick, I was in the groove and reveling in how good I felt to get my blood pumping. Along the way, we laughed, joked and caught up with each other, all while encouraging ourselves and the kids to keep up the pace and finish the long loop. We stopped to take some pictures to chronicle the day; we admired some beautiful scenery along the way, all the while knowing we were taking steps to ensure we’d be healthy enough to continue this tradition for years to come.

    So, as I sit in my bed, typing this and enjoying some more decaf green tea, I’m secretly enjoying my sore muscles because they remind me that I worked them hard today. I’m struck by the simple beauty of this special holiday. This holiday is borne from resurrection; a rebirth of sorts reflected in this pledge to BE a model, to birth a new lifestyle with a goal of strengthening my heart and the hearts of those I love. This holiday is all every day should be: doing what’s right to care for my health and the health of my loved ones, joy, and love. This holiday, that offered me the opportunity to enjoy the gifts of family and friends and food in a heart-healthy way, has renewed the vow I took as a model, and though it left me with a sore butt and thighs, that’s exactly the way I wanted it to be!

    Reply
    • March 31, 2012

      Follow the Fifty…Kick-off

      3/31/2012

      I’m in awe that this little machine in front of me is analyzing my blood sugar and cholesterol levels within minutes.  I fear what that machine is going to reveal.  I fear it’s going to reveal what I already know in my heart.  

      My heart.  

      My heart is why I’m here today, at the Follow the Fifty kick-off. I’ve gone through thirteen activity stations so far, with my new teammates and my trusty coach, Wendy, at my side.  My heart has gotten revved up during the activities at each station and, although I’m hungry, because I’d had to fast since the evening before,  my primary thoughts are not of food.  At least they’re not of the food that’s awaiting us after these blood tests are complete.  It’s not that the crudités table across the room isn’t appetizing, because it IS a lovely montage of fresh fruits, veggies, hummus, nuts and whole grain mini breads.  It’s that my thoughts are of the food that I’ve eaten in the past. That’s the food that’s gotten me to this point.  

      Those food choices are the choices that shaped what I am today…out of shape. Shaped like a Weeble.   I know that, if it were possible to analyze one’s fat and determine where it came from, my stomach would be made of lasagna, ravioli and garlic bread, while my butt would surely be composed of Nutella, cheesecake and Munson’s chocolate but, no such test is available, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.   I know that the serving sizes of these things are what contributed to my obesity.  

      There, I’ve said it.  I’m obese.  Ugh! How that word sickens me.  How I dread the admission that obese is what I am.  It’s as if, when that word is said, I hear the word ‘hideous’ in its place.  It’s a word that truly repulses me!  I don’t want that word to be able to be used to describe me.  I don’t want that word written in any medical chart that contains MY name!  That word is a HUGE risk factor for heart disease.  Heart disease is something else that I don’t want written in my medical chart.  

      Preventing heart disease is what brought me here. Me, the daughter of a  man who had his first heart attack at 42. Me, the cousin of a guy who died of a sudden heart attack on his way home from work one June day;  he had just turned 44. I know my family history is a risk factor I can’t control, but there are many factors I can influence and that starts today!

      So, back to that amazing little machine before me.  It is slowly ejecting a little strip of paper, full of all sorts of numbers.  I’m dreading the numbers.  I watch, tense, as the health screener transcribes my numbers on to my stat sheet. And, there it is.  What I knew, but dreaded most of all.  My fasting blood sugar is 106. I hold back tears. I know that number means I am pre-diabetic.  I know that number means that I have let my body down because it’s proof that I did eat the wrong portions, I over-indulged in things that are not-so-healthy and I didn’t make it a point to get off my butt and make sure I had at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day!  What was I thinking?!  Why did I let myself get to this point?! 

      Okay, the pity-party is over!  I’ve come here to be part of this challenge because I want to claim victory over heart disease and all of its risk factors. So, I can’t lament the past, can’t focus on the what ifs; I’ve got  to find my glass-half-full moment here.  Hey, look at that! My triglycerides are only 73 and my total  cholesterol is 182 with an HDL/LDL of 69/98!  Hey, now that’s a small victory for my heart! My heart that brought me here to this kick-off; the heart that needs to keep beating strong and healthy, so I can watch my kids grow up, and then watch their kids grow up; my heart that knows that small victories lead to the big victory in the battle against heart disease! 

      Reply
      • April 21, 2012

        And you know what else is in that heart, Dawn? Apparently great amounts of courage! Wow, you were so brave to share those thoughts, but also to take these first steps for change. Stay with it…every single day. Every day find at least one small thing that you did that made you healthier….like taking the stairs, or avoiding the candy, or drinking water instead of soda, or having a smaller portion at supper. They all build on top of each other until you suddenly find yourself getting healthier! And then, you know what your chart will say? It may have the terrible word in it, but in front of it will be “Used to be…” 🙂

        You go girl!

        Reply
        • April 22, 2012

          Thank you so much!
          When that picture pops in to my head, I instantly replace it with my yet-to-be-taken pic of me, in my red dress, on stage, as I WILL be at the Divas celebration!

          I love the “used to be…” comment.

          Reply
      • April 22, 2012

        Dawn,

        You are so brave to put it all out there! I am so amazed by you. You are one of the most beautiful and caring, smart and funny ladies that I know. I know that you will attain your goals! I can’t wait to see you in that red dress!!!!!

        Keep moving forward and know that you have friends that love you and want the best for you.

        Reply
        • June 25, 2012

          Xoxoxo my cheerleader!

          Reply
    • April 14, 2012

      4/14/2012

      I’m not having the best of attitudes right now. At an event a couple of days ago, photos of me were taken and looking at them has just made me bawl! I look terrible. I’m huge. They say the camera adds ten pounds; are they sure it doesn’t add 100?!  How I wish it was just the camera that added those pounds! I know that I added these pounds! I’M the one who is responsible for these pictures. I’m the one who put everyone and everything else before my own health.  

      Maybe it’s denial, maybe it’s body dysmorphic disorder, maybe I’m delusional, but, even though I knew the numbers on the scale, on my clothing labels, from my physical, I never felt like I looked THIS BAD! Alcoholics hit rock-bottom before they begin their ascent out of that disease. I guess these pictures are the rock-bottom for a chocoholic. These pictures are a wake-up call that I just cannot ignore. I’m so incredibly sad every time I recall one of these pictures in my mind. I feel embarrassed and disappointed in myself. I feel sick to my stomach when I think about these pictures.  Yet, I’m craving some chocolate, because that’s the way I feed my stress! (Can you say ‘vicious cycle’?!)

      Aaaaaarrrrrgggghhhhh!

      So, I have got to deal with this differently if I want the next pictures to be different. I hop up, go do an exercise DVD, take a walk with the dog and jump in to housework, instead of running to find some Rocky Road ice cream or a pile of chocolate Easter candy. I’m going to use these pictures, burned into my mind, as motivators. They’re now going to act as a magnet with an opposite pole to my goals. They’re a negative pole that is going to push me toward the positive pole—the picture I’ve yet to see in print; the picture that’s now merely created in my mind.  

      I’m on a stage, in a gorgeous, red dress, surrounded by so many others in their red dresses, singing, dancing, and smiling, because how I feel inside is finally reflected in my new, healthy outside! 

      Reply
      • April 21, 2012

        That’s right, Dawn! And do NOT let that picture be the last thing you think of in terms of how you look. If it motivates you, ok I guess, but otherwise – forget about it. It’s just a piece of paper. Instead, start browsing online for the dress you want to wear at the show. Make a drawing of it or print it out and stick it on the fridge. It might stop a moment of weakness, but more importantly, it keeps that positive goal right in front of you. You WILL get there, and we’ll be there clapping for you!

        Reply
    • April 22, 2012

      4/22/12

      “Using the power of decision gives you the capacity to get past any excuse to change any and every part of your life in an instant.” –Tony Robbins

      I love this quote and; while all of my changes were not instantaneous, my three weeks as a Model of Heart Health have netted me some positive changes already! This all stems from ONE DECISION…the decision to complete the Follow the Fifty application and that one decision has been fueled by many little decisions since then: cooking meatless meals three dinners a week; making sure I have more physical activity every day; making smarter choices in serving sizes; saying ‘no’ to a dessert or treat, even when everyone else I’m with is indulging; paying attention to how I feel when I eat so that I can acknowledge when I’m full, and then STOP eating, which is so hard when the ‘finish-what’s-on-your-plate-because-there-are-children-starving-in-Africa’ mindset has been ingrained since childhood!

      One of the keys has been to have a mini-celebration for each of these successful choices, no matter how little, each time one occurs. So, when I was at a dinner with some wonderful friends at Bocado’s the other night, one friend passed the dessert plate, containing some sort of delicious pastry with a chocolate dipping sauce. I asked myself, “Am I hungry?” my answer was “No.”, therefore, I politely declined. When she insisted, I held my ground. When she accepted my answer and ceased encouraging me to have some, I had an in-my-own-head party to celebrate. (It was awesome; you should’ve been there but, sorry, it WAS a PRIVATE party!)

      I repeated this again, yesterday, when the cub scouts and parents of those scouts were all having Rocket Popsicles to celebrate a successful race. I looked at those popsicles as merely some unnecessary sugar on a stick and once again, politely declined. Then, my brain went right in to party mode. None of these little decisions were earth-shattering. None of these decisions affected world peace or solved the environmental crisis, but these little decisions DID make a difference! I’ve got so much more energy to do the million things I need to do in my family life, volunteer life and work life. I’m ten percent to one of my goals! As I stepped on the scale this morning, I discovered that these little decisions have come together to net a ten pound weight loss! Those little decisions have chiseled ten percent of my weight-loss goal away!

      I’ve discovered that it’s not just the deciding to make these little decisions that is important, it’s also deciding to pat myself on the back along the way that helps these decisions have more impact on my life.

      Reply
    • April 30, 2012

      April 30, 2012

      Wow!  It’s our first month in and I’m so inspired by all of the snippets of success stories I was privy to at tonight’s meeting, while standing in line, chatting with my team mates and visiting the displays.  Upon entering, I was so heartened by the woman in front of me who was telling a friend that she has been diabetic for 15 years and now, after nutritional counseling and lifestyle changes, she’s returning NORMAL blood sugar levels!  If that’s not a triumph, I don’t know what is!  

      One of my team mates is up to an eight pound loss!  I’m a little over twelve pounds!  As my team mate & I were standing in the lobby, chomping on our delicious salads & sandwiches from G7 Catering, our entire conversation centered around how good we were feeling because of adding exercise in to our daily lives and changing what we ate.  Not only joy, but also pride washed over me as I realized, even further, that this was really happening!  I was changing my self for the better and it is going to carry over to my children, friends and family.  Not only by sharing all of the Follow the Fifty information we’re getting, but by example to those around us, we are shaping the future of the Quiet Corner…and even our country!

      Thanks is due to so many, but I’m especially thankful for my cheerleaders & coach.  They’ve jumped right in, full force, to shake their pom poms for me.  My wonderful coach, Wendy, skips dessert when she’s with me.  She sends me pics of the big salad she chose when she could’ve had a big, greasy, yummy burger, while out with her boys. She tells me, “I made this better choice because I’m on this journey with you.”  She writes me little notes and buys me cool water bottles to ensure I’m hydrated.  My cheerleaders, Michelle, Beth, Diane, Anne & Joanne offer all sorts of accompaniment for walks, yoga & Zumba. Diane even volunteered to watch my kids for a couple of hours so I could attend tonight’s meeting. Other cheerleaders, like Deb and my far-away BF, Jeanne, send me texts or emails cheering me on when they read my updates.  I’ve found a great crew of cheerleaders at Body by Design Studio; they walk with me, they encourage me to try new classes and are only positive about all of the changes I’m making.  I’m surrounded by positive energy and boundless support!  Thanks to you all who have made me positive that my heart will not only be healthier in December, but will be full of gratitude for the blessing of having you all  in my life! 

      Reply
    • June 25, 2012

      May 19, 2012

      I’ve heard lots of chatter about Spin Classes. I’ve seen so many posts on Facebook, where friends gush about how fantastic and fun they’ve found those classes to be. So, I decide it might be time for me to try out this type of exercise.  

      I’ve got a pretty realistic view of the shape I’m in, and even though I’ve been consistent with daily exercise since Follow the Fifty began, I am smart enough to know that my body is not ready for an hour-long class. Luckily, the Body by Design Studio offers a half hour class that runs concurrent with my daughter’s kid’s yoga class. It’s perfect! 

      Wednesday was my first class. Sarah, the instructor, was great in helping me get my bearings with the bike, getting me strapped in to the pedals and taking it slowly so I could practice all of the positions. I hadn’t been on any bicycle for at least ten years, but, hey, “they” say “it’s just like riding a bike” because one never loses that ability once she’s learned, right? I still had an underlying fear that I might just fall off the spin bike, but I was ready to take my chances.

      Little did I know, this ride would be a trip down Memory Lane for me. You see, years ago, my mother and I were visiting my brother and his wife and they took us in to D.C. to see “The Vagina Monologues.”  Why would a Spin Class harken back to that production, you ask? This particular production opened with a delightful vignette that went something like this, “If my vagina could talk, it would say…” The speakers would complete the sentence with phrases like, “I’m independent.”, “I’m fabulous.” or “I’m powerful.” Still not getting the connection?  Let me elaborate on my ride.  After my ride, if my vagina could have talked, it wouldn’t have.  Instead, it would’ve screeched “WHY DO YOU HATE ME?! WHAT DID I EVER DO TO YOU?! WHY ARE YOU TORTURING ME?!”  

      All I could think was, what have I gotten myself into? Why are all of my friends posting the glories of Spin Class? Why aren’t any of them WARNING my vagina of the consequences of a first Spin Class?  Maybe  none of them have this issue. Maybe my pubic bone is more delicate and sensitive than everyone else’s. Maybe this happens to everyone and they PURPOSELY don’t tell newbies because no one warned THEM, so they figured everyone deserves to find out for themselves, as a kind of jolting surprise. Maybe they don’t tell newbies because they don’t want to frighten them out of trying Spin Class. Either way, I figured I’d warn you all…and give you the good news; the soreness subsides in a day or two and, the best part, on subsequent rides, it gets easier and easier every time!  So, if you’re thinking of trying a Spin Class, go for it with full disclosure. It’s up to you to decide if you’re going to forewarn your vagina.  😉 

      Reply
    • June 25, 2012

      May 30, 2012

      I’ve got a lot of cheerleaders on my side for the Follow the Fifty program. One cheerleader I don’t frequently get messages from is my cousin, Michael. The reason he can’t text me, call me, email me or phone me to offer his encouragement is that he is, instead, one of my motivations for joining Follow the Fifty. He died two years ago, of a heart attack. He had only just turned 44 two weeks before he died.  

      On my way to spin class this afternoon, I’d been thinking of him and wishing that he wasn’t one of my motivations for this program. He was a few years older than me, but growing up, we were the two most like each other, out of all of the cousins in our big, Italian family. He was a master sarcasmist and responsible for so much laughter at the “kid’s table” at every family gathering. He taught us to disco dance to Donna Summer, one of his favorites, in his basement playroom; he wrote awesome, scary stories and let me read them and actually asked MY opinion of them; he played creative practical jokes on everyone of us gullible younger family members. He was part of so many great memories of my childhood. I was missing him so much! So, as I started warming up, I was still lamenting that I had no way of talking to him and was wishing that was not the case.  

      This class was the half-hour class I took while my daughter took her kid’s yoga class in the next room, so it was just three of us preparing to peddle away. Sarah, the instructor, was on the middle bike, and my friend, Kirsten, was on the bike to Sarah’s left. As Sarah started giving instructions and the music was cranking away, helping us warm up, I started focusing on the directions and following the position and cadence changes Sarah was doling out to us.  Much to my surprise, I was suddenly cheered on by Michael himself! Sounds impossible, but I know that it was no coincidence that a few songs in to our ride was Donna Summer’s “On the Radio.”  I instantly knew he was there with me and my heart leapt with joy.  

      I made it half-way through the song before the tears overflowed and Sarah instantly questioned me. I explained what was happening and, in short order, there were three sobbing spinners in that room. It was an odd, bittersweet feeling, but one I will never forget from this amazing FTF journey! I will always cherish my time on the bike with Mike.  

      Reply
    • June 26, 2012

      June 14, 2012

      I can put both hands in my pants without unbuttoning them! 
      (Don’t worry, you’re still on a family friendly blog!)
      I’m loving the results from all of my efforts initiated by the Follow the Fifty program.  I’m just about ready to get rid of my largest-sized pants and move down to the lower size.  I’ve been perusing tons of websites and bookmarking some really gorgeous red dresses for our finale.  I see one I like and I close my eyes and visualize me, on stage, at our finale, looking great and exuding the happiness that I feel when I mull over how  much more energetic and fit I am.

      All I know is happiness is a pair of loose pants!
      Wah Hoo! 

      Reply
    • June 26, 2012

      June 22, 2012

      This blog will probably be the hardest to type thus far, not because it’s too painful of a subject, but just the opposite.  It’s because I’m so elated that I almost can’t stop tearing up to write this!  

      Since my clothes are much, much looser than when Follow the Fifty kicked off, but my actual weight had barely budged the needle on the scale, I asked one of the trainers at Body by Design, Marion, if she’d do an accurate body fat assessment using calipers and the weighted measuring tape.  This morning, I went in to the studio a little earlier than class start time and kept my fingers crossed that these new numbers would show movement and reflect the results of my hard work.  

      Marion poked and pinched and squeezed me in all the required places and then set to work calculation like a fiend.  She delivered the results that I’d lost SEVEN INCHES from my waist since kickoff!  I don’t think my smile could’ve been any bigger at this point.  

      Then, she did a little more calculating and presented me with the official chart of body fat percentages and their translations.  She pointed to the lower portion of the chart and told me that I was ONE PERCENT AWAY from being in the “low-risk” category!  The expansion of my smile and the bursting of my tear ducts were simultaneous!!!  This was some of the  best news I’d received in a long time and it just reinforced that I WAS doing the right things to meet my goals.  At least three times, on the way home, tears welled up in my eyes from the sheer joy of thinking about my updated numbers.  

      The crowning glory of this experience was, when I arrived home, my son, who is ten, asked me how it went at the studio.  I told him my good news and he dropped what he was doing, stood up with tears in his eyes, gave me a magnificent hug, and said, “Mom, I’m just so proud of you!”  Looking at his beautiful, smiling face, seeing his teary big, blue eyes, I was overcome by the notion that one of the biggest reasons I joined Follow the Fifty, is probably my biggest cheerleader on this journey.  My healthier heart is looking forward to many, many, many more years of magnificent hugs.  

      Reply
    • July 15, 2012

      June 26, 2012

      Ever seen the movie INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS? I’m pretty sure that the pod people have gotten to me.  Not only am I ENJOYING exercising, I’m doing something I’ve always proclaimed to hate.  A few weeks ago, Sarah, the trainer who leads Body by Designs’ free walking club on Tuesdays, told me she was going to change our location to Bentley Field’s track.  She said she wanted to start me on something new and I didn’t even really pay attention when she said it.  Well, I was almost horrified when we got to the track, started walking, and it turned out that the walking was a warm-up to jogging! 

      I had tried to jog ages ago and did not like it one bit!  It was really one of the least-enjoyable things I’d ever done.  Jogging was not what my boobs ever wanted to go through again,  Talk about uncomfortable!   So, when Sarah said “Let’s start with a light jog.”, I swear I felt my chest cringe in fear.  But, since FTF began, I’ve been open to many new challenges, so I figured I’d keep my mouth shut and at least try it.  

      I got breathless pretty quickly, but Sarah was great and explained how to breathe properly when jogging, and she kept helping me adjust my pace so that I was easing my way in to this new fitness activity.  Well, my boobs weren’t happy but they weren’t miserable either, and, I kinda liked it…a bit.  I liked keeping my eye on the goal of reaching a certain point on the track.  I actually liked how the impact of my feet on the track felt.  I was amazed, at the end, when Sarah said I’d ran almost a half-mile.  That was something I never thought I’d be able to say I’d done! 

      My son, Kaleb, and my daughter, Mary, walked and ran alongside us.  Kaleb kept up the entire time and was my own cheering section while we made our way around the track.  It was a lot less challenging to run while hearing “You can do it, Mom!  I’m so proud of you!”.  Trust me, jogging with a big smile, is way more enjoyable than gritting one’s teeth while jogging. 

      After my first foray in to jogging, I called my coach, Wendy, who shared the secret of double sports bras with me.  So, I’ve been jogging at walking club for a few weeks now and it’s made me confident enough to sign up for a 5k in a couple of weeks.  I know I’m not at the point where I could run the entire distance, but I know I can at least run some of it, and that’s a start toward the finish line! It’ll be the first of many, I’m sure! 

      Reply
    • July 15, 2012

      July 7, 2012

      This morning, I did something I thought I’d never do, I finished a 5k where I actually jogged!  Even more amazing, my eight-year-old daughter, Mary, walked and jogged it with me!  We participated in the Hartford Marathon Red Dress 5k.

      The race kicked off and the two of us took off on a fast-paced walk. After about a mile, my daughter slowed down but we kept at it.  At the first water station, something amazing happened.  Mary suddenly kicked in to high gear and she started jogging with me for short bursts.  We jogged right in to two other FTF sisters, Jane Brown, Diane Holowaty and FTF coach, Kerstin.  We all kept up a nice, fast paced walk until the last mile, when my Mary broke away and started running as fast as her little legs could carry her.  She stayed at least a quarter mile ahead of us  for the remainder of the race and I just screamed my loudest, cheering her on, whenever I wasn’t jogging myself.  At the last quarter mile, coach Kerstin and I started running for the finish line and I know that the span of my smile, as I ran across that line and heard my name called, was probably the biggest it had ever been!   Diane and Jane came through soon after, and our FTF team, flushed pink and sweaty, was beaming with our accomplishment!  

      I don’t think any of us had envisioned completing a race like this before we were inspired by the Follow the Fifty program, but I’m positive that we all know we can do it again…and much more…in the future! 

      Reply
  44. April 5, 2012

    Congratulations models, coaches and our many supporters! Your strength and determination are so inspiring….but most of all your unconditional support is just amazing! You lift each other up and we all soar as a result. This group is phenomenal!

    Reply
  45. April 3, 2012

    FTF Day 1: Empty Cup

    I never thought I’d be grateful for the day when a team of highly motivated health educators carefully constructed my personal version of hell. Let me tell you about my day of appreciative torture. I applied for the Follow The Fifty as soon as I saw the advertisement in the Shopper’s Guide because I am gifted with genetically high cholesterol along with 3 other risk factors. Due to a hiccup in email delivery, my acceptance email was the last contact until the night before the cheery massacre on my collective well-being, Kick Off Day March 31, 2012. I had no time to prepare for the attack on my perseverance with ibuprofen or caffeine. I couldn’t even get my cheerleader to carry me through the morning. I rationalized this as acceptable because I will be relying on only myself when I need to get to the gym at 4:30am. I mechanically got in the car at 6:30am, my only comfort were my sneakers, favorite work out pants and some gentle sips on some water, just water. The caffeine withdrawal headache started peering around the corner of my optimistic brain by 6:45 just as I ended up at the wrong high school, ten minutes in the opposite direction. I told myself, “I have time. They’ll have coffee there for sure, how could they not? People will go mad!” As I approached the check in table, late, alone, and a tad apprehensive, the woman gave me quick instructions that I barely heard and then the final blow, she told me there was no coffee. Couldn’t she see the axe impaled in the side of my head? America runs on Dunkin, right? I wasn’t going to make it. Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, it did.

    The pastor at my church spoke the next day about how you need to empty your metaphorical bowl before you can fill it back up with new knowledge, philosophies, servitude, etc. In my case, my coffee cup was empty. My stomach was empty from fasting for my tests. My energy was depleted. I was alone. I almost went back to my car and drove home. I thought, “I’ll just leave when it gets to be too much.” It got to be too much real quick. I walked into the auditorium to bright terrifying lights, loud merciless music, giant gentle beach balls and foam Frisbees being whipped around the room, and maddening cheering. To document my demise, photographers and filmmakers were everywhere flashing photos of the exuberant crowd. I just tried to bury my head in my hands to get through it; the pain of every ball bouncing off my head was barely noticeable. A kind gentle soul passed me an ibuprofen which did not make as much of a dent as her generosity and compassion. I vowed to be nicer to those sitting near me. My cup was empty. I could either buy into this movement and enjoy the moment, or be miserable. My cup was empty; it was time to fill it up.

    I couldn’t help but feel the energy buzzing around the room, the passion of Linda and her crew to change the lives of 188 women. I started to look up and smile at what was happening around me, although I still had to squint my eyes from the pain. I listened. The room was filled with stories of people who suffer directly or indirectly from heart disease. The room was full of hope, encouragement, optimism, hugs and empowerment. I started to think I could do this. The group I traveled with was just as cautious as me. A coach in the group, Linda Magee, adopted me for the day. With each person we met, the support was palpable. People who don’t even know me were helping me and working very hard to ensure my success, including Donna and Jackie who were determined to make every non-singer feel musical. Or the dance instructor who smiled as us even when we were falling all over ourselves. It was uplifting, to learn and do and feel the power of the many people determined to make every moment of the day matter. By the 13th station, Zumba with Jimmy, I got the award for the most energetic. My cup was empty, I was drinking it all in. I can do this.

    Reply
  46. April 3, 2012

    Wanted to share a low fat and tasty recipe I made for dessert last night and was a popular favorite from hungrygirl.com

    PB&J Yogurt Parfait – Makes 1 serving in 5 minutes

    – 1 6 oz FF strawberry yogurt
    – 1/2 cup strawberries
    – 1/4 cup of PB Capn Crunch cereal (this amount is only 3 grams of fat)
    – 1 tsp. of peanut butter chips, chopped (found in Baking section)
    – Optional: Additional strawberries
    – Spoon half of the yogurt, strawberries, cereal and chips and in another layer do the same and enjoy a PB &J taste with NO bread needed YUMMO:)

    Reply
  47. April 1, 2012

    Hello FTF fellow bloggers! So excited to kick off these great journey. Feel very fortunate to be back in the quiet corner and surrounded by such supportive community members! Can’t wait to see where this road takes me!

    Reply
  48. March 30, 2012

    Good Luck to all the women who are beginning a new journey!

    Reply

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