***For this weeks blog post – I asked one my of oldest buds to write about her transformative journey. Shirar Patterson is a person I met about twenty years ago when we both moved into the fourth floor of Somerset Hall at the University of Maine. We have been friends ever since. Over the past year, Shirar has taken a big step in her life and has decided to focus her attention on herself. In this transformative year – she has accomplished so much more than she ever thought she could have. I am so proud of her and what she has done for herself. In focusing on her own process and journey – she has been able to juggle all of the things that she wants to do for herself and her amazing family. Thank you, Shirar, for sharing your story with my readers!!***
When Mathy asked me to write a guest blog I was honored and a little panicked. How am I going to get this done on top of everything else in my life?!?!? But obviously I would say yes for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, Mathy is a treasured friend. We have known each other and been best buds for almost 20 years! We have gone through a lot together. Like all friendships we have had our ups and downs and taken the seasons of life as they come but when all is said and done we would do anything for each other. We have seen each other at our worst and cheered each other on to do our best. People like this are in your life for a reason. Mathy has been one of my biggest cheerleaders this past year and was a huge inspiration for me to get back on track with my health and fitness when I saw her success. I knew she was working hard and it was showing, the changes she was experiencing inside and out were remarkable. The fact that she thought I could inspire others with my story was heartwarming.
Another reason I said yes to this is because that is what I do. Over the past year I have adopted a “Yes!” philosophy inspired by Shonda Rhimes 2015 Book “Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person”. It was a no brainer, when opportunities like this arise you say “Yes!” Over the past year I have worked hard to say yes to many things in my life but my most important lesson is learning to say yes to myself.
I have been very successful throughout my life in many areas, but like many women with a weight problem I have not been confident. SO this year I said yes to me and confidence and it has been an awesome year! Ups and downs but overall awesome and I will never be the same. So many lessons learned and the growth I have experienced has been even more than I expected.
Just over a year ago I was advancing in my career and given more responsibility at work. I had been accepted into a year long national leadership program in my field…top 12 leaders in the country I might add! I was focused on being the best mom I could be to my two boys (9 months and 2 years old) and being a present wife. While I was having much success I was often feeling like I was falling down somewhere with so much on my plate. I had recently read the “Year of Yes” book and knew I had to make changes. It became crystal clear that nothing on that full plate that was just about me. I was not taking good care of myself and in the back of my mind I knew that self-care was necessary to live the happy full life I wanted to be living.
I was eating poorly and haphazardly. I was still nursing so I told myself I could get away with eating whatever I want and to some degree I was because I had lost my pregnancy weight and a little more but I was stuck. I exercised intermittently but used most of my free time thinking about what was next and how I was going to get there. Not focused on the moment or the present, consistently under stress about something or other.
Around this time, I was friended by an old hometown acquaintance on facebook. I was seeing her post all these pictures of healthy food and workouts. She was very fit but also made eating healthy and exercising look so easy. I told her as much and she invited me to join a week long clean eating challenge to see what it was all about. Of course I had just read the book so I said “Yes!”. That week started out rough and I almost walked away but I knew Sara had put a lot of work into the menu and organizing the event. More importantly, I had made a commitment to myself to follow through. By Tuesday I had doubled down and was really engaged in the challenge. By the end of the week I had dropped 6 pounds and over an inch on my waist. I thought “Wow! That wasn’t so hard, I am in!”.
From there I started a workout program, the 21 Day Fix, and followed their nutrition plan. I struggled. Heck, my youngest wasn’t even sleeping through the night so I was not either! But I had decided I was going to figure out how to get these 30 minute workouts in. I even started working out at my office after hours so I wouldn’t have an excuse to skip my workout (#boardroomworkout). I saw results. I started using social media to stay accountable by posting sweaty selfies, photos of my meals and vidoes of my musings on life. I quickly learned I was inspiring others and invited them to join me on my journey. I even became a Beachbody Coach to help people in a more formal way; it is definitely a fun side project that has kept me accountable and provided a network of support and personal development beyond my wildest imagination. Now I had my adoring public I could not let down. I knew I had to keep saying “Yes!” to myself or I would slide backwards.
Around this same time, I attended my first of three sessions for the national leadership program. I told myself I would say yes to the full experience…. especially the hard stuff. I did. I was steadily dropping weight, learning more about myself as a professional and a leader and gaining more confidence at the same time. I remember one session where I wanted to run out of the room. It was on communications, they were videotaping and critiquing us over and over again; Our peers and the woman heading it up who was a former anchor with CNN. As someone who cares so much (probably too much) about what other people think I was near my breaking point. But I stuck it out and I can honestly say I am better for it. #yearofyes
This fall I was up for the biggest job of my career; CEO of my organization. I knew I had the right stuff, the personality, the experience, connections and all of that good stuff. But like any national search it was grueling and long and there were times when I doubted my ability to land the job. Ultimately I came out on top but through that process I let Shirar take a back seat. I became uber focused on what I needed to do to get that job and while rationally I knew taking care of myself would help me through the time I started to slip and skip workouts and old habits crept up. I put back on some of the weight I had lost and my attitude started to go downhill. I kept beating myself up over the backslide and rather than taking action I was making excuses.
March of 2016 (#boardroomworkout) vs. March of 2017
Mind you, I have my adoring facebook fans. I would see them out in public and they would complement me on my weight loss and share how inspiring I am. They would ask why they hadn’t seen any pictures in a while and tell me stories about how they started working out because of me. This was enough to get me back in gear. While I am not at the weight I had hoped to be a year after starting this journey I am much stronger physically and mentally. I say “Yes!” rather than look for excuses and most importantly I know I deserve the focus, time and attention it takes to live a whole life. We are all a work in progress and I am proud of where I am at…if I can help inspire one person to be their best even better!
I conquered Penobscot Mountain in Acadia National Park with my dear friend and another inspiration to me, Lori Schaefer, this fall. I see many more summits in my future!
Keep up the good work Shirar – you are an inspiration to many!! I am so honored to call you my friend!!