Gaining Confidence

This past January marked the two year anniversary of the beginning my journey to health. I can not quite believe how the time has flown! I showed up at the park that first day without expectation. All I knew was that I was ready and willing. To this day I am still amazed at the transformation that followed. So many things took me by surprise,becoming a runner for one. Another thing that I found surprising how I became more of myself as I lost weight.


As I Gained confidence in my physical abilities, this  lead to confidence in other areas of my life. One of those areas is in my writing. I have always written, whether it was a journal or the pages of fan fiction I scribbled away during French class in high school. Stopping and starting short stories and a novel that would in the end take me fifteen years to finish. Looking back I realized I had such trouble finishing my stories not because I lacked ideas but because I lacked confidence. I just did not believe that I could write well.


For years I looked at writing as my secret. It was just a hobby like any other and there it would stop. I took stabs at public writing here and there. Started a blog which really had no direction and ended up closing it out. During the time of my weightless, I also became fast and great friends with Wendy. She played an integral role in helping me gain confidence in my writing. Lovingly chiding me for not writing so much each day. Forcing me to sit and think about what I want to do with this talent.


 Not only did I find I was gaining confidence in my physical and writing abilities but also confidence in friendships. For years I had friends but kept people at a distance. I lacked confidence that I was enough for them. I struggled heartily with jealousy, when discovering my friends had all hung out together and I was not called to join in the fun. Or when inside jokes would be told and I was not clued in. Feeling hurt I built a wall around my heart. Holding people up to a standard that they were unaware.


Over the years I had let some people in but for the most part I was rather closed off. If I had this much trouble with friends forget about dating! Dating scared me. The idea of someone learning all the ins and out of who I am terrified me. At this point in my life I was not honest with who I was, did not understand love so how could I possibly know how to love anyone? I lacked confidence that I knew how to love.


Honestly my journey to health did not begin that first day at the park. It really began when I came forward down the aisle at church longing for Christ. From that time forward God began to work on me. No matter how much I resisted, no matter how long I stayed a baby Christian. God had me all along the way and still does. Patiently and not always so kindly but needed I learned to seek Him in all things. To be thankful in seasons of hardship. Through that time, in that time is when I grew confident in His love for me. That the more I cast aside my plans, hopes and wants and submitted to His will that my life improved.


It was God who placed a friend in my life to get me physically healthy. It was God who has put these amazing women and men in my life who have shown me again and again what love can truly look like in the everyday, nitty gritty life. It was God who healed me of my closed off ways and jealous tendencies. It was Him who gave me this writing talent in which I hope to do some good. It was Him who has given me the gift of confidence in all things.


I am a new person since I have begun this journey. Trying new things and putting my heart and love out there for the taking. Willing to put my writing out there for public consumption. I finished that novel I started as a teenager. I want to read through it once more before I start querying it for I feel it is a story that needs telling. Taking a chance and stretching my skills as I figure out what it means to be a freelance writer.


I am not willing to hide anymore as I used to, unafraid of rejection for that will come. Rejection is part of life. If I am being rejected then that means I have the confidence to go out there in the first place. That is one of the more valuable lessons and truths I have gained on this journey. That is why I am adamant that losing weight is not just about food and exercise but life as a whole. Sometimes when I look around that message is not so clear. The emphasis is on the newest diet or exercise and I get that, it is a billion dollar industry. However if your motivation is to be the person in the dvd or magazine and not yourself then you are just fooling yourself. Decide to step up and reclaim your health for you! If you are willing , and give in to the process fully, you too can look back a year or two and be amazed.

You too can have a story of how you used to be before confidence got ahold of your life! Or perhaps you already have a story to tell. I am taking submissions for guest posts at




Letting Go Of The Fat Girl

Disclaimer- I am not a dietitian, therapist this is my personal story
This is a repost from my previous Blogger account.

Franz Kafka’s short story, The Metamorphosis is one of my favorite stories since discovering it in my teens. On some level I have always related to the main character Gregor, who wakes up one morning to discover that he has transformed overnight into a giant roach. The isolation he feels from his family and the world around him has now manifested the physical. His family is horrified at what he has become and at first Gregor is as well. Then as the story goes on, he adjusts to his new life somewhat. Learning how to move around in his new body and the reality that his life is forever changed. This surrealist story resonated how I began to feel about my changing body.

As I lost weight, the transformation of my body began. First noticing my feet, they had muscles, actual defined muscles. I never knew feet could have muscles, never mind defined muscles. Then it was my upper arms and my thighs. They were no longer this flabby, pales skinned appendages. Instead they were becoming muscular and tanned. Part of me could not believe that they belonged to me. This was a few weeks into my new regimen and the results were beginning to show. Like Gregor I too had to learn how to live in my new body.

Then of course because the results were starting to show, those around me began to notice. Handling reactions from those around me ( all encouraging I should add) but getting attention for the changes in my body was hard. Not the encouragement I was getting or the questions people asked me. It was being the center of attention. Being exposed. It was knowing I was being watched now that the weight loss was noticeable. It had become real and there was no going back. I did not want to disappoint them and more so myself. While this put more pressure on me it was also the push I needed to keep going.

Moving about in this new body in my day to day life was a new challenge and exhilarating. Finding I could now climb a ladder with no fear of falling off or get into tight, small spaces with no problem. Marveling at how I was no longer as tired as I used to be doing the most mundane tasks. Have I mentioned how much better I sleep now? Now when I wake up I actually feel rested. This alone is reason enough to get out there and exercise! Sleeping better has made me a much less grouchy and moody person. Something to think about. Remember my first goal to be able to walk up the stairs without losing my breath? Yeah, accomplished that in a matter of weeks.

I yearned for new challenges during my workouts, adding exercises like doing stairs or adding laps. This also meant I had no excuse to slack off no matter how much I wanted to. That part was not so much fun. There were days when I was tired and would fall into doing things half assed. One day, I had a really bad workout with Jackson* ( I was convinced he would never show up at the park again). After we finished walking a lap he turned to me and said, “You deserve to run.” That was it. Nothing else needed to be said. It is something I remind myself of on those tough days, I deserve to run. I was fighting for my life.

On top of that I was still carrying myself as if I were a heavy person, slouching, shoulders rounded out. In some ways I was still trying to remain invisible. My clothes became too large for my now small frame. Part of my reasoning for not buying new clothes was that I was still in the process of losing weight ( something I am glad I did as my sizes dropped quickly and it would not have been worth the money investing too much into a new wardrobe). However I do know I held onto them in a weird attempt to hold onto the person I used to be, the fat girl.

Even once I was in the maintaining stage, I still had not bought the clothes I needed. To look at me one would think my shirts had swallowed me whole! It was not until I went shopping with a couple girlfriends that I began to embrace my new body. I had tried on a pair of jeans, the smallest size I have ever put on. My friend brought me another pair to try on, a size smaller. She insisted because the pair I had tried was saggy in the behind. To my surprise they fit! I stood there staring at myself in the dressing room mirror really looking at myself for the first time. The person staring back at me was a new person and it was time I welcomed her.

The fat girl was gone. I had to let her go, she represented everything I no longer wanted in life. She represented holding back, a lack of confidence in all aspects of my life. She does show up every now and again, the fat girl, the one who wants to hide from the world. I have to remind myself to stop slouching. Hold myself up with confidence. This body is no longer alien. It is me. This is where my relation to Gregor diverges, his transformation an end to his life. While mine has just begun to flourish.

Disclaimer- I am not a dietitian, therapist this is my personal story

Growing and Gaining Life

For the past few weeks I have been reposting edited and updated old posts from my Blogger account. Thank you to those who have started to follow me! Today I want to let you know where I hope the direction of this blog will be in the future. I want to continue to focus on health, not just physical health but all around health. What I have seen again and again on this journey I am on is that everything is connected. From the food that we consume, to what physical activities we do and how that impacts our overall well being.

Thinking about that and how to grow this blog, it finally came to me! First increase the amount of times I post per week. From now on I will be posting twice a week, on Monday’s and Wednesday’s. On Monday’s ( which I am toying with calling Monday’s Motivators) will include previous posts, stories from my friends about losing weight and other topics to get you going for the week! In this vein if any of you out there have a story to share please email me at for a future guest post.

Wednesday’s will be shorter posts, ones about how to buy healthy food on a tight budget ( and making it last longer!). New exercise routines I have been trying out, recipes and how to restock that empty pantry with healthy alternatives. These are just a ideas I have had. If there are any topics I am not covering or overlooking please, dear reader bring it to my attention. 

On occasion there may be a post that will be more of a one of, such as addressing mental health or even spiritual health. As I said, I feel they are all connected. Thank you dear readers as I figure out how to grow this blog without you or myself becoming bored. 


Mid Week Motivator -Eating Away at Myself

Trigger warning, this post deals with binge eating. This is my personal story and experience. If you are dealing with an eating disorder please seek professional help. I am not a nutritionist or therapist.

Food was my comforter, my distraction, my addiction. I am a recovering binge eater. There I said it. The way I dealt with life and sometimes still do is to hide. Food is a great place to hide. Being full was like I was being hugged from the inside out. When I was too full I could forget how lonely and out of place I felt in the world. The body that came from this was my shield. The layers of fat and the baggy clothes to cover it “protected ” me from the world. It was a barrier to keep people as far away as possible.

My binge eating was at its worst in my early twenties. Carefully planning out not only what I would eat but the exact order in which I would eat. My life was often consumed by this need to binge. It was not everyday but it was often enough. This was my coping mechanism. Instead of alcohol, food was my drug of choice. In my early childhood there was a lot of chaos. In the midst of that chaos food was always there. After my mom died, followed by my long absent dad and then grandfather in
quick succession, food was there for me. I feel I should add I was raised in a loving home thanks to my aunt and uncle who took on the role of my parents, my two sisters, grandfather and mom . Eating in this way was the only way I understood at this time how to cope with so much I did not understand.

It was a constant. Food did not judge me or get upset with me or ignore me.

This addiction developed over time. As a young child I remember a bag of Doritos being grabbed away from me or sneaking out of my room at night for the cookies I had baked for the family. Later I would hide the candy I brought home from school, making a daily stop to purchase my addiction.   I do not even want to think about how much of my paychecks I wasted in this endeavour. I became really good at pretending I was hungry for dinner when in reality my stomach was full.

In the seventh grade I clearly recall the boy I liked saying I was fat. At this time I was not, however in my mind I was already the fat girl. If I could go back in time, I would take that thirteen year old girl aside and tell her she is beautiful. I cannot recall this boy’s name nor do I blame him. He was a seventh grader being asked if he liked a girl. How could he know the effect his remark could have on me? In a weird way this gave me permission to indulge in my addiction. Since I was already thought of as fat ( which I equated with being ugly) then no reason to NOT indulge.

As the years went on the level of my binging ebbed and flowed. During my early twenties it was at its worst. I enjoyed consuming food. I would get excited anticipating the food I would eat. Often planning and purchasing for my binge was just as exciting as consuming the food. This was joyfully killing myself. This was also depression. Eating was the way I made myself feel better. It was how I forgot about about a bad day or week or month. While I was consumed by food I could forget how miserable I was with my life.  Eating this way gave me pleasure, or at least I tried to convince myself it did. Until I was left alone with empty containers and a too full stomach. Then all my fears about being alone and unloved would surface. Not too long after I would start to eat again.

I was miserable. I was angry. I was tired. I was lonely. I felt unloved ( this despite being very much loved) and no amount of food could ever fill that void. When I became a Christian food was still a struggle because it was something I held onto. After all it was my security and how could I let that go? You know what is wonderful and scary about God? That sometimes He pulls us out of our comfort zone (no matter how hard we try to resist) in order to grow us in the way we should be in our relationship with Him. As I mentioned previously, I went through a period when money was so tight I could not afford to go through the drive thru or buy as much junk food. I had to be careful how I ate in order to have enough food for each day.

Through this time I turned to God as I had never before. I started to grow in my relationship with Him. I surrendered this to Him, finally letting go of my firm grasp of a terrible thing. Slowly my need for food in this way began to abate. I began to fill myself with God’s Word instead of empty calories. In letting go, I became free to live the life I was always meant to live.

That is not to say that I no longer have these tendencies. They are however few and far between. I enjoy eating in a different way, in a far healthier way. I see food more as a source of fuel than something to consume myself. I know when to stop, I understand better what triggers a need to binge for me. Exercise helps tremendously, often after a bad day I crave going for a run instead of stuffing my face.

By the time I began going to the park, I had not binged in over a year. I was ready to let go of the fat girl. I was ready to let go of hiding behind food.

Let me add I did not seek counseling for this and this is my personal story. God worked this out in me. Truly I can say this, He worked this out of me. Turning to Him is what healed me. Please if you are reading this and struggling with depression and or food issues ( because really they are tied together are they not?) Please seek help in your local community. You are worth it and deserve to heal.

If you are in Miami, Fl and need help you can contact a Christian counseling center through their churches website

For those not in Miami here are a few links to seek help Hope Line Resources National Eating Disorders Association – To Write on her Arms With Love

*This is my personal story, how I have dealt with this issue. If you are suffering from an eating disorder please seek help from a professional.

Learning How To Eat For My New Body

Disclaimer- I am not a dietician, doctor or therapist. This is my personal story

Note: This is a repost, it has been edited and updated. It has been two years since I began my journey to health. I have maintained my weight, eating habits and exercise routine.

The other part to getting healthy is diet. Which means food. Because this aspect of the whole thing is far more complex I am going to divide it up into two parts. The first part will be how I ate while I was losing weight and how I eat today. In part two I will touch on the more mental aspect of my relationship with food.

Food is necessary. That goes without saying. We need it to live. It gives us the energy we need to live our lives. Much of it tastes good, in fact too good. I love sugar. I love eating. Which was the problem. I needed an attitude adjustment, to understand that food has a purpose besides pleasure. 

This is another area where I thought I would need money. Again I was proved wrong. While it can sometimes cost more to buy healthier food, it is possible on a limited budget. I did not follow any commercial diet plan. What follows is the diet that worked for me.

First, I utilized a free app to help me keep track of my calorie intake, My Fitness Pal. This was so helpful in staying within my calorie goals. It also helps to calculate how much you burn off with your exercise program. I learned a lot about portion sizes and how much I should actually be eating. This was huge for me. How many times had I gulped down a bottle of soda with out realizing that it was meant for two people and not one?! Too many to count.

I stopped eating after 7pm ( when I could help it). This allowed food to digest properly before I would go to sleep. Also I was just a little bit hungry. Not because I was starving myself. I was learning how to eat for the body I wanted. Learning what was in front of me was enough.

Drastically eliminating the amount of sugar in diet helped tremendously. The only sugar in my diet was from fruits and vegetables I ate. Do not ask me how I did not eat desert. This alone was a miracle and I am not exaggerating on this. There were some nights I would sit there craving something and chewing ice with gum really helped me get through those times. When watermelon season came around, I chopped a whole watermelon and put it in the freezer (seriously, it becomes like an Italian ice!). I used to obsess about desert, having something ( usually chocolate) in the house.  Over time I have reintroduced other goodies such as frozen yogurt or cookies. I try not to have both in the house at the same time. This is something that helps me to stay on track.

This way of eating is a permanent change and not temporary. I needed to let go of bad habits
( more on that in the next post) to do this.

While I was losing weight, I was taking in 1500 calories a day and with my workouts burning much of that off. Just as with the workouts, I surprised myself by not giving in to temptation. It was not until my birthday in March that anything sweet touched my lips. Let me tell you, when I was eating my birthday cake I was in ecstasy in devouring the icing! But it was enough. I did not take the cake home with me as I usually would. I did not go out trolling for a sugar fix. This was truly from God.

The only thing I was drinking during this time was water and lots of it. I became obsessed with staying hydrated. It still is the only thing I tend to drink during the day, except for my daily cup of coffee. I may not add sugar to my coffee but that I could not cut out. I also discovered lemon flavored Vitamin Water, which I would also freeze and drink as a treat. I like cold, sweet things, can you tell?

Breakfast is usually oatmeal and over time I added things to it like a sliced banana, almonds or dried fruit. While I was in the midst of the weight loss I would have a mid morning snack. I tended to want to eat more in morning since my workouts would be later in the day. Lunch always included a yogurt or a salad or a half a sandwich. Something full of vitamins that would give me plenty of energy.

Dinner was a smaller, smarter portion of what my sister had cooked. I used smaller plates, carefully measuring out my portion. The benefit of working out so late and then eating is burning up all those calories.

It helped me to eat the same things day in and out. To not have those foods that I would be tempted to eat. It was over a year before I ever set foot down the cake mix aisle in the grocery store. Even looking at a package of low-fat cookies is a danger zone for me.

Cleaning out the cupboards and fridge of anything that can derail any attempt is key. This can be hard because so much of what we buy is stuff we enjoy and have spent a lot of money on it. I  also don’t have a husband or children to think of either, so that made it easier for me too.

It means saying no to food offered during social and work situations. This is why planning ahead is so important. The times I did not  plan well lead to not so great decisions. Another benefit to planning ahead is saving money. Carrying around a healthy alternative for that afternoon snack or bringing lunch to work.

The best part about pulling back so much from sugar? It was learning how wonderful so many things taste. I never realized how sweet carrots were and this has become my favorite thing to eat. The day I added peanut butter to my diet was such a happy day! I indulge in sweets but I’m careful to not keep it in my house. I just know I can not have it too accessible. More on this in the next post.

I understand better how to eat and that food is not just a source of pleasure but fuel. For those times that I plan to indulge, I work out harder.

It helped too that those around me were conscience of my new food choices and encouraging in their own ways. Again, you can not do this alone and having some one alongside you or cheering you on is so helpful!

What changes have you made to get away from bad unhealthy habits? Disclaimer I am not a dietician, doctor or therapist- this is my personal story.

A Walk in The Park

This is a repost from my Blogger account. I’m not a doctor, therapist or dietician. this is  my journey on less weight loss and maintenance

As I wrote about in my previous post, Jackson*( no he is not a certifed trainer, just someone who knows a lot about fitness). and I agreed to meet Monday through Friday at a park near his house for one hour. I was nervous the first as I did not know what to expect and thinking back on it now, I don’t think he did either. The most exercise I had been doing of late was ten to fifteen minutes of dancing around my room. I had managed to find an old pair of shorts and dusted off my sneakers. The sun was bright and I could smell the layers of sunscreen I had slathered on just minutes beforehand. Nervously I crunched the water bottle in my hand as I waited for him to come. I was early, I’m always early, especially when I am nervous or trying something new.

That first day was not bad, seeing we were still figuring out how this would work. Jackson* needed to see where I was at. He handed be one pound weights to hold and off we went around the park. Side Note: He asked me to buy three pound weights at one point and I thought I had since the box said 3 pounds only to discover they were 1.5 wrist weights equaling three pounds. This was something that greatly amused him and myself! The weights were to help with resistance and I used them up until 3 pounds. They were helpful for me but decide for yourself in using them during your runs or walks. His pace was faster than mine and more than once I had to jog a few steps to keep up. At one point he asked if I was walking slowly on purpose. I managed to say no while panting for breath. He grinned and then walked faster.It amused him to make me run. To my surprise (and his too I’m sure) , I showed up enthusiastically the next day. Then I kept showing up and the poor guy was stuck with me five afternoons a week!

The kind of exercises we did were not fancy or complicated. They were simple things I had learned long ago in PE and had since forgotten. My body knew what to do, often the harder part was in deciding I was going to do them. I learned I had to decided what it was I wanted to do each day before I got to the park. Getting past those mental barriers of “I can’t ” and changing them into “I can.” As I grew in confidence in what I could accomplish this became less so but let me tell you, sometimes there is a fierce battle going on in my brain. The angel and the devil on each side, one wanting to quit. The other side not wanting to quit. Also I had to learn to ignore the other people in the park and focus. Face it, so many exercises are just plain silly looking while doing the body good. You know what else, people are so into their own little worlds that really most of them are not even looking or caring about you over there doing squats.

Our routine evolved over the next few months.What follows is what we ended up doing for the most part. We began with a few laps around the park, in the beginning lots of fast paced walking with spurts of running and or jogging.
( We ended up modifying as I developed issues with my right knee not too long after starting by adding military lifts or punches to help get my heart rate up). Along certain points we would stop and do different kinds of exercise, push ups on the back of a bench, assisted squats, sit ups and bicycles. Some I preferred over others, assisted squats and later regular squats were my least favorite to do. So of course he made me do more of those
( especially since I would try to half- ass them).

It was better for me to not keep track of time. Not knowing how much longer I had out there helped me to work harder. It was better for me to be ignorant of time because otherwise that would of been my focus instead of the workout.

Soon we were running and or jogging more than walking. Then back to walking. Then back to jogging and so on it went. He knew how to push me, usually with cajoling and other times with simply stating this is what we are going to do. For the most part I was willing and I did have my moments of rebelliousness as he called them.

One day he asked if I was breathing. There was complete lack of air in my lungs, so of course I nodded yes. Then he taught me how to breath in a rhythm with my steps. This was a revelation for me. I tried to recall if any of my PE Teachers ever taught us to breath. Perhaps I had been daydreaming ( as I still often do) but I could not. Not long after,with his coaxing I finally ran one lap around the park without stopping. I still cherish that moment. That’s when I knew I could do more. More importantly wanted to do more.

He loaned me a stationary bike for me to use at night and on weekends. I was doing two a days for a while, days at the park, evenings and weekends on the bike. This was my life for a few months, it was my main focus. I was determined. Some would say that was too much. Some would of quit once their knee began to kill them as mine did. Once the weight began to drop off and I became stronger, the pain in my knee subsided.

After a few months, Jackson* was there less and less until I was on my own. In fact he had started to help another friend and he started working with the both of us, poor guy was exhausted! I showed up in the beginning because I knew he would be showing up. It was not long until I was showing up for myself. I had succeeded in my first goal, I could get up a flight of stairs without losing my breath. Then my goal became to run more laps around the park ( about less than half a mile around). Then I decided I wanted to run a half marathon.
We had begun meeting in January, by summer I had met my weight goal and began to train. Something I have done unofficially, clocking in at just under two hours at the same park where it all began. I hope to enter a race officially by the end of this year.

Update: I later discovered my measurement of the park was incorrect, so this first half was closer to a 12k. I ran my official half in February of this year clocking in at 3 hours 22 min. You can read about it here http://lindaconnelly.WordPress./and-let-us-run-with-perseverance

I outgrew that park and began to seek out new parks. I go back every now and again just as a tune up. Jackson* gave me the tools and push I needed. I learned so much from him about exercise and persistence. He taught me that you do not need to join a gym to get healthy and to have confidence in myself. Lessons that I have applied to other aspects in my life. I still workout in a park, because that is where I like to go and seriously how can free be beat?! I am forever thankful for God placing Jackson* in my life.

As a side note, let me add this about many of my encouragers along the way. Many of whom came from the park I went to everyday. This park is located in not the greatest of neighborhoods and these people who could have been mean or harsh with me were not. They cheered me on, a few of them approaching me to help them too. So many friends and members of my family were there for me in big ways and small. All of it helped me. Support is key, there is no way to do this on your own.

I want to hear from you out there, any questions or stories of your own?

*Name has been changed per request

Disclaimer- I am not a therapist, dietitian or personal trainer- this is my personal experience

The Exercises-

Please check with your doctor and take into account any old injuries you may have before pursuing any exercise plan.

Last Year

Nothing fancy, just a lot stuff to build up muscle and stamina.

Properly stretch out, warm up and drink plenty of water.

You must walk before you run, this is not a stroll, you want to get your heart rate

For a time I was not able to run due to my knee, I learned how to do punches instead. There are other ways to get your heart rate up

Push ups, first on the back of a park bench and later on the ground. Then Squats, then back to push ups. Doing three sets of each.

Then at the next spot stopping to do sit ups (50 or more) then bicycles or scissors ( doing reps of 40) then another set of sit ups and another set of either bicycles or scissors

The park is about half mile around, two and a quarter laps is a mile. I started with 4 laps  and soon was running 10 laps a day.

Stationary bike- Depending on how I felt the day’s workout went I would do from thirty min to an hour at a good pace and playing with the resistance.

I would also do another set of sit ups and push ups

As time went on I learned how to play more with what I wanted to do or accomplish that day.


I have cut back my running to three or four times a week ( running from 3 to 5 miles) and I take a day to rest

Earlier this year I started P90x and have incorporated a lot of that into my workouts in the park too.

Find something you enjoy or can do with others. Most of all try to have fun!

Update: I have gotten into yoga in the last year and find it challenging and fun! Since the marathon this year I have not run as much distance, opting for sprints and working on my speed and strengthening exercises.  but I still get out there, five to six days a week.