Thankful for everyday love

Today’s guest contributor is my childhood friend, Leslie Ferguson Thomas, who is on a fearless journey to become who she wants to be. Be sure to check out Leslie’s blog!

My husband always refers to us as two puzzle pieces, and when we met, he says, “The world could hear the click”.

I grew up dreaming about what it would be like to fall in love. I imagined it just like the movies.  I grew up watching Dirty Dancing, Lifetime movies, and Grease. In my mind I fell in love a million times. Each time was different and special, but the girl in the image never looked like me. She always had the perfect figure, perfect hair, and pretty much perfect everything. So each year I would start a new diet and live in my fantasy land. I was always waiting for me to be perfect, so I could meet the perfect guy.

Photo by Say Cheese Photography

Photo by Say Cheese Photography

I met Josh, my husband, through an online dating site called Plenty of Fish. I was 29, and he was 32.  I had gone through a breakup about a year prior that really shook me up.  I had seen myself continue to stay in a horribly one sided relationship because I thought this guy was a great guy simply because he wanted to be with me even though I was overweight. I drove way too many miles each weekend, spent money I didn’t have, left a job I liked, and gave up who I was for someone else. After that relationship ended, I promised myself I would never do that again. So when I met Josh, I was very guarded.

Josh was nothing like any of the guys I had dated before. I remember one night in particular, it was storming outside, and I didn’t have any minutes on my phone. I had planned to go visit him, but he insisted that I stay home. He didn’t want me to get out in the weather. After being with guys who didn’t even consider me, I assumed he really didn’t like me. I soon learned that was far from the truth. Day after day, conversation after conversation, we became closer and closer. I never worried about my weight around him, what I wore, or what I said. I was totally myself with him. He told me he felt the same.

In March 2010, Josh asked me to marry him. It was a day I will never forget. Seven months later we said, “I do”!

LeslieandJoshweddingIt was the most magical ceremony. Josh has never once asked me to change anything about myself, but the funny thing is that being with my husband makes me want to be a better person. I am getting healthier. I am going after my dreams. I am letting go of hurt, and loving deeply. But what I have learned is that Josh is romantic in his own sweet way. Sometimes he will hear me singing a song, and the next thing I know he has gotten me the song. Sometimes I will think he is not listening to what I am saying, and then a week later he will bring it back up.


The bunny

*Big thanks to Henry Petty for serving as today’s guest writer!*

Photo by Phoopla Photography, 2010

Photo by Phoopla Photography, 2010

One of my earliest memories as a child is of eating a big meal and looking outside the single-pane windows in wonderment, wondering if the Easter Bunny had hopped his way into our back yard to leave some decorated boiled eggs for us.  I loved peeling away the plastic coating to get to the oh-so-awesomeness of the boiled eggs.  And if one was so lucky, he might find a plastic egg that parted to reveal silly putty, Cadbury eggs, or cotton tails (white cheddar popcorn balls).

It never occurred to me what Easter really meant.  And while you’re thinking to yourself, “Wonderful, it’s Easter..and I get to read a blog about Jesus.”  You’re probably right, but you have to read on to find out.

I gave up sweets for Lent this year so for the first time I am without the comfort of a quick sugar crush from my afternoon Twizzlers.  I never realized how much sweets were a part of my life.  While I have lost 11 pounds since this Lent fast, it wasn’t the reason I gave up sweets – I wanted to really feel emptiness.  I wanted to feel pain.  Call me crazy, but if it doesn’t hurt, then it’s not working.  Don’t go calling some mental health hotline; I’m not a cutter or anything like that.  I have a tough exterior, so it’s gotta hurt to count.

That emptiness that sweets left has been filled with a clearer mind for physical fitness.  I’ve joined a health club, I’ve eaten more micro nutrient-rich foods, and I’ve used my Xbox 360 Kinect more.  As a side effect to giving up sweets, I’ve focused on my own personal health.

Now when Easter comes and everybody is settled home, I will absolutely stuff my face with that Valentine’s Day candy that has been waiting in the cupboard screaming out my name.  And I’m going to drown myself in the best banana split this side of the Mississippi Railroad.  But I will never forget one thing:  That Easter Bunny really was up to a lot of mischief.  But I’m thankful for him instilling into me a love of sweets, so i could experience the void and bring myself closer to my body, God’s Temple, being in much better shape.

Maybe this was about Jesus after all.  Happy Easter everybody!

Veggie story

Thanks, Henry Petty, for serving as today’s guest writer!

This week marks the one year anniversary of the movie “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” being released to Netflix, and I wanted to share my gratitude to Joe Cross, creator of the documentary that has changed so many lives and the impact the movie has had on my own life.

Up until early 2011, I had gained massive weight by sitting in front of a computer for 10 hours a day.  I had the worst eating habits.  My breakfast, lunch, and dinner all consisted of meat, meat, meat, mashed potatoes laced with lard, and more meat.  My gut was hanging over my belt in my size 46 pants; I was depressed, had no energy, and suffered from sleep apnea among other conditions.  The skinny people in my life and who I spent time with only made me feel fatter than one could imagine and made me even more self-conscious and unworthy of love from anybody.

My “come to Jesus” moment happened after a routine health screening showed I was in the red (bad) margin of bad health 7 out of 8 health categories.  I was borderline diabetic from what the Dr. told me, and having a history of diabetes coming down from both sides of my family didn’t help my chances of escaping.  Quite frankly, I was surprised I didn’t have diabetes already.  The embarrassment grew worse as I saw the scales tip to 310 pounds.

The Indian doctor, bless her heart, told me bluntly, “This is not good.  You need to change.”  She recommended I limit my beef intake to 2 times a week.

Then, in July 2011, I watched a movie, “Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead,” which changed my life.  I highly recommend you Netflix it;  it’s about a man’s decision to juice for 90 days straight. He cured his ailments as well as lost massive weight.

I began the juice fast for all of 2 days, because my girlfriend feared I wasn’t taking in enough.  The downfall to juicing is it’s very expensive, and I was taking in half of the ingredients I should have.  The “reboot” program costs up to $30 daily.

Then, I made a decision to give up all meats and go strictly veggie & fruits.  I’m not vegan like Tess by any means, but I eat a vegetarian diet peppered with seafood (technically, I’m a pescatarian, but I tell everyone I’m vegetarian to avoid the blank stares followed up with endless questions).

And then 4th of July happened.  Like I have so many times before, I failed on my lifestyle change and was really hungry.  In a frantic state of mind, I threw burgers, hot dogs, cole slaw & bratwurst on my plate, nuked them in the microwave, and away I ate.  Momentarily, I felt great and fulfilled.  Afterwards, I felt like crap.  I screamed to myself, “This is IT; this is the LAST TIME I allow myself to fail.  Never Again!”  I quickly made myself a veggie juice to cleanse myself, and never looked back.

I never was addicted to hamburgers, though they are my favorite food that I now substitute with a veggie patty or portabella mushroom.  The reason I ate meat mostly is because of how I was raised.  I was raised around burgers, fried chicken, and Coca-Cola.  Never was I addicted to these foods–it was just a way of life.

Currently, I don’t follow any specific diet, though I’ve read some great books like “The Engine Diet,” “Eating Well for Optimum Health,” and many other books to guide me through.  I do P90X workouts frequently, and I try to stay active.  I’ve lost 30 pounds since I began my journey and have never been happier.  I’m more confident in myself, my clothes fit me better, and my blood pressure is now at a happy medium.

But it all started with Joe’s movie, and for that I am dearly grateful.

For more of Henry’s thoughts, check out his blog.