How can a bunch of words cleverly arranged on a single piece of paper convey a person’s entire life (okay, 25% of their life –  since I’ll be 41 in October); summarize a person’s past, present and future; succinctly state a person’s life philosophy. Even before I found the beautifully articulated and designed Holstee Manifesto – I had been living my life according to every tenant it pronounces… well not my whole life, more like the last 10 years of it. So how did l go from, VERY “UN-Holstee” to “Holstee for Life?” Grab a coffee and let me chat at you for a while…

From the time I was in junior high, my weight has fluctuated – sometimes dramatically. I always knew when I was overweight (and sometimes downright fat), but in case I ever forgot, there were always people along the way to remind me. Like the tall slim boy who walked behind me on the way home from junior high, taunting me with the classic 80’s commercial “Move over bacon… now there’s something lean-ier”; or sometimes just calling me “bacon” for short – (insert dripping sarcasm) so funny, especially when you’re already a wildly insecure 12-yo girl.

And it didn’t stop there…. In my early 20’s while back-packing with my boyfriend in Italy, I was called a fat pig by some ‘gentlemen’ sitting at outdoor café in Rome. In my late 20’s, while on vacation in Cancun, some French dudes felt it was acceptable to yell to my friend and I – “Hey fat American girls – lose some weight!” Super classy, huh?  For the record, I speak both Spanish and French – so there was no mistaking what was said in either of these incidents. Yes, that’s right three different countries, three different languages… a TRIFECTA of hate speech based on the size of my body. For someone with already very low self-esteem this only served to drive it down further.

Sorry, but there are some things – even things from 30 years ago – that just stick with you, no matter how much you think you’ve ‘let it go.’ I know, I know, let it go ALREADY! I guess my only point here is that every one of these instances (and there were many) hurt… badly, but they didn’t make me want to lose the weight – they just made me sad, and they me hate myself so much more than you could ever imagine. I stuffed all this sadness and anger deep, deep down with every morsel of food I could shove into my body. By the time May 2003 rolled around, I was 100+ lbs overweight and on daily medication for high blood pressure – the result of ~15 years of self-loathing, self-medication with food and alcohol, and zero self-care.

My life was totally out of control – so much so, that on May 5, 2003 I had a health scare that required surgery. I spent the next three weeks recovering AND stewing over the sorry state of my health, until finally, I said ‘enough.’ On May 31, 2003, I took responsibility for my happiness; I took responsibility for myself; I took responsibility for my health… I took responsibility for my life. I didn’t like where I was, or where I appeared to be headed, so I decided to change it.

I started a structured eating and exercise program. I was vigilant about everything I ate and drank AND became truly mindful to enjoy every bite, appreciative that I had food to eat when so many didn’t.  I worked out HARD for 60-90 mins every day because I was healthy enough to do so, with a fully functioning body, when there were so many people out there that couldn’t. No offense, but those ‘Biggest Loser’ contestants had nothing on me! I spent five months digging deep to find a new level of determination, discipline and ultimately my self-respect. By Thanksgiving 2003, I had lost 93lb, and the final 10 by Christmas that same year. While I will admit some of it has found its way on AND off me over the past 10 years – I currently weigh 5 pounds LESS than I did in November 2003.

When I started on that weight loss journey, it wasn’t just about changing my body – it was about changing my life. I decided to view my world with a consistent ‘attitude of gratitude’ – I had/have so many, many things in my life for which I am grateful, and spending just 5 minutes each night jotting down a few of them caused dramatic paradigm shift for me. Life was so much better than I ever thought it could be. Even after a terrible divorce, I picked up and move 3000 miles away, where I knew no one… simply because I wanted to see what it would be like to live in the BIG CITY (on the East Coast). And you know what – it was a BRILLIANT move! I have had two wonderful employers, lived in interesting places, and made my life is full of amazing friends that I would have never known had I not taken responsibility for my life, my happiness, and taken this leap!

And don’t get me wrong, not everything’s ‘sunshine and lollipops’ – but you can ALWAYS play the “Pollyanna game” (See 1960s Disney film) – for example, “UGH, it snowed almost 4 feet in the last 24 hr and I have to go dig out my car… BUT digging out my car will be a GREAT workout AND no one will expect us to come into the office today because the roads are all closed.” See how it works? It’s just trying to find that ‘silver lining’, or ever so slightly shifting your viewpoint… cause if/when you do it’s amazingly effective. About four months ago, I realized I was arriving at a major anniversary – 10 years of self-care, self-love and sharing my positivity and gratitude with anyone who will listen – 10 years! For many, what I do may just be common sense – but for me it’s an enormous accomplishment and a conscious choice I must make on a daily basis.  Ironically, this epiphany coincided with another incident that rocked my world.

In Boston, on April 15, 2013 – a truly terrible thing happened, when the crown jewel of our Bostonian year – the Boston Marathon – was marred by disgusting acts of hate, resulting in death and devastation. Again, it was a wake-up call from the Universe. It was another call to NOT TAKE FOR GRANTED  my limbs, my good health, my loved ones, or this amazing life I’d made for myself.  I started thinking… I need something BIG to both celebrate my 10-year anniversary of taking back my life, AND to truly honor my latest ‘wake-up’ call from the Universe – it would also need to be something that honored those who were killed or maimed in that horrible attack. I needed something that would again make me dig deep for a new level of determination and discipline, that would inspire others to try things they didn’t think they could do; to create meaning in my life, and to inspire to do it as well…but before I decided on what my mission was to be…  (we’ll get back to that in one paragraph). I came across the Holstee Manifesto. And in short, this “Manifesto” – this is my life.

I didn’t like who I was, so I changed it, body and mind. I didn’t love where I lived, so I left it for somewhere new. I stopped feeling guilty, sad, and anxious about things over which I had no control, and accepted that while I may feel them, I need not be defined by them. I always have a smile for everyone I meet, whether I’m out running on the Charles River at 5am, or having a glass of wine in the park with my little dog. I don’t ever expect reciprocation; I’ve just always loved the saying, “If you see someone without a smile, give them yours…” so it’s what I do.  And the best part about this city where I live is the people i have met… now don’t get me wrong – Boston – IS NOT a friendly city… but I’m a firm believer you get what you put out there., and because I work really hard to only put good stuff out there that’s who i find in my life… really great people at work and in my personal life. I sincerely believe “life is about the people you meet and the things you create with them.” Since I took responsibility for my life and my happiness, I have welcomed into my life more amazing, loving, wonderful people than I ever thought possible… and if all we ever “create together” is a good time… I’m okay with that.
Finally, in BIG letters “LIFE IS SHORT” … and I want to live my dreams.  One of them just happens to be a finishing a marathon.  Soo… on October 27th, 2013 I will be running the 38th Annual Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. I have been granted a bib for the 2013 MCM as a fundraiser for a truly wonderful organization – Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). TAPS provides direct support to families who have been impacted by a death in the military, regardless of geography or circumstance. So inpursuing my passion, my dream,  I am again able to create something amazing/help people I may never meet.

Well, as they say, that’s all the news that’s fit to print. Thanks for reading my marathon (pun intended) musing! And here’s to the Holstee Manifesto… that hangs lovingly framed in my humble Boston apartment, reminding me every day how I choose to live my life and to share my passion.

Viva Holstee!!!