About Me

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Alabama
I am a fitness loving, home schooling, fan fic writing, online gaming, weight lifting, running when and where I can kind of mom...I love my kids and husband, and wouldn't trade my life for anything!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Lesson Learned Is A Lesson Earned

    I woke up Monday morning, which Monday alone is frustrating enough as it is, but to top it off I woke up with severe pain in my right knee.  By severe, I mean I stepped out of bed and said a few words that would put a sailor to shame. Every time I put weight on my knee, it would leave me in tears.  Not just from pain, but also because I was afraid that this would be that injury, the one that I was afraid of.  The one that would end my running days for good.
     It is with thankfulness and praise that I can say it was not such an injury, like a torn ligament or worse.  Instead it was a severe flare up of my osteoarthritis.  Yes, you read that correctly, I have arthritis in my right knee. It was diagnosed when I was much heavier, and it is a result of my long term obesity.  By losing the weight, I certainly improved what was a near constant pain, but there are still times when it flares up like this.
     Easy as it would be to blame things on genetics, or bad luck, the truth is that my life choices were what resulted in the pain I experienced these past few days.  And....I will admit....my bad decision to run in very cheap $9 running shoes.  Yeah, I'm actually ashamed about that part, and not so much the part about my weight in the past. Running in cheap shoes is NOT a good idea.  Ever.  Well a lesson learned is a lesson earned!  I will be investing in a new pair of shoes as soon as I am able.  It is a good thing that I have to take a break from running, so I can save up the money until then.  Dear readers, let this be a lesson to each of you as well.  You get what you pay for in athletic equipment, and the one thing you do NOT want to scrimp on is your athletic shoe.
     That said, I also must insist that you do what you can about your own unhealthy habits as soon as possible.  Because I allowed my obesity to go unchecked for years, I allowed the damage to be done to my knee. Damage that, I fear, is always going to be a part of my life.  I'll even admit that running is probably not the BEST exercise to do, but there are ways that I can do it safely without causing further damage to my knee.  Continued use of the patella straps is a must, and I also need to include more workouts to strengthen my muscles in my knee. I'm also now going to be on a daily anti-inflammatory medication and Glucosamine supplement to help reduce inflammation and prevent further damage to the joint.
    Had I done something years ago about my weight, I wouldn't have to deal with this now.  But what is in the past is in the past, and I've grown and learned from that.  I've chosen to use it as a lesson to help make better choices in my future instead of something I should be ashamed of, and run from.  That is something I encourage each of you to do.  Use my lesson to help prevent you from learning things the hard way, like I did.  If you are making unhealthy choices, and I do not limit this to being over weight, then now is the time to take that step and fix things.  Do NOT allow yourself to do further harm. We only have this one body, and we should do all we can to take care of it.
    The one thing that really bothers me about this is the one thing I was once guilty myself of doing.  For a long time, I did not really take into account just what I was doing to myself.  I dismissed the poor diet and lack of exercise as an issue with the mentality of "I'm fine now.  Why should I worry?" I didn't consider the long term implications of it all.  It is a mentality I regularly come across these days.

   "I drink soft drinks all the time, and I'm fine."
   "I'm overweight and I'm fine."
   "I smoke, but I'm fine."
   
   Sure, you're fine now, or at least you believe that you are fine.  The most dangerous symptoms of poor health are the ones that aren't immediately obvious, or the ones that are most easily ignored and explained away.  Then one day you wake up, and you're not fine. You have Diabetes, or heart disease, or like me, Arthritis.  The time to take action is not when you have reached that point.  The time to take action is now, even when you believe you are fine. My diagnosis at the age of twenty-three with Arthritis was the first in a long line of wake up calls, ones that I could have avoided had I not procrastinated.
     Despite my young age, though, I'm not embarrassed to admit that I have Arthritis because I can also add that I did eventually do something about it.  I could have just given up, and let it be another excuse not to get up and take action. Now, when I say that I have it, I can also add the story of my success.  It just would have been easier to do it without the pain. Then again, I've never really been one to take the easiest path.  It's an occupational hazard of being stubborn!

Stop procrastinating!!!!
-Kristina




   

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Time to go beyond the blog!

     After receiving so many positive remarks on my blog posts, I have decided to take my memoirs beyond the blog and onto the pages of a book.  I can't count the number of times now that someone has told me that my story and my blog have inspired them to get up and start their own life changes.  Nothing makes me happier than to see others achieving the goals that they have set for themselves, so those comments keep me going. I realize now that I want my story to go farther than just my friends and family.  I want to spread it to others who might need a push in the right direction.  I want to encourage others who need encouragement just like I did when I started my own journey. We live in world where there are so many discouraging things, that I want to be a part of those tipping the scales the other way (no pun intended!)
     Truth be told, I'm nervous about this.  Putting myself out there, essentially pouring out my heart and soul into a book, is a scary thing.  What if I face rejection? What if people hate it? What if? What if? What if?  All these what if scenarios are making this first step a bit of a challenge.  It's funny, after all the confidence that I've gained, you would think that this would not be so big an issue. Yet when I think about publishing a book full of my thoughts and emotions, it's suddenly like I'm back to the start of things, before I became the confident woman I am now.  I have to remind myself that if I can wear a two piece, and let the world see my mummy-tummy, I can certainly do this.
     In a way, both situations are a lot alike, now that I think about it. My stomach is very flawed.  Okay, that's an understatement. It has stretch marks on top of stretch marks, I have an apron from my weight loss, extra skin and weight add a little more fluff than I would like, and after years of hiding under clothes my stomach is so pale that it's nearly blinding.  And that is just one area. My body has flaws all over! Despite all this, I still decided I was not going to hide it. I was going to be proud of the body that I have.
     So if I had to paint a portrait of my mind, and what I imagined it to look like, it would be a mirror image of all my physical flaws.  Some might ask why I would characterize myself with all these imperfections, or wonder why I see myself in such a negative light.  Well the truth is that I AM FLAWED and that I HAVE MANY IMPERFECTIONS, but I wouldn't say that I am seeing myself in a negative way.  The stretch marks, the flab, the pasty pale blindingly white skin...all of that is part of who I am, and it establishes something of a road map of the past few years. It tells my story, and it reflects all the hard work I have put in to making myself a better person both physically and mentally.
     There are emotional scars that will always remain, but they have faded greatly with time. There are mental stretch marks, from when my sanity was stretched to the limit. There were many times, particularly in the last few years, that I wondered just how much farther I could stretch without snapping in two. My mental "skin" is most definitely pale, after so many years in the dark.  Darkness is defined as the absence of light, and I can certainly say that I experienced such an absence during those hardest of times.  And though I've shed much of what was weighing me down, there are still a few things that cling on to me, like the extra skin and the apron.  I still have what I call "down days," where depression and anxiety get the best of me. Now, instead of wallowing in those emotions, I go on a run, and it helps. It may not fix it completely, but it does make it easier to deal with.
    So if I can wear a two piece and allow myself to be vulnerable and open to criticism of my physical flaws, then maybe, just maybe, I can find the strength to open myself up to a wider audience when it comes to my unseen flaws. It's been easy, being open here with my friends and family as readers, because I know you all will support me, and offer me encouragement. Each one of you, my awesome readers, have helped me grow stronger, and more able to face and express what goes on in my mind. I've always tried to hide the less attractive parts of me, but that all changed when I started this blog.
    Scary as it is, I know that I can do this, and put myself out there for the world to see.  Just like with my physical self, my inner flaws are representative of my achievements.  They tell the story of how I have come to be the person I am today. I am proud of who I am, and I am proud of what I have done. Sure, it's hard to look back sometimes, and see what I was like in the past.  I still cringe at the old photos of myself, particularly that one of me in the green sports bra, with my stomach hanging out. That is the image I now use to picture what I was like before my mental makeover. And yes, it is equally hard to look at, particularly when I think about putting that image out there for eyes other than friends and family. Yet I know that if I can do it, that I will be be a better person for the effort.  Better still, I might be able to help some other person who shares my story.
    Vulnerability does not make us weaker unless we allow it to.  If we use it, and learn from it, we can come back stronger than we were before. Just like when you work out. You are essentially breaking down the muscle, which seems like a bad thing.  But it is through that break down that your muscle rebuilds and strengthens.
     Of course all of this is very easily said, and not so easily done. It is going to take some effort to convince myself of everything I have written here, and to not crawl back into hiding. I am going to have to fight past my fears of rejection and criticism, but I've done it before, and I am sure I can do it again as long as I have the support of friends and family.  Lucky for me, I can say that I am blessed with such support. What I can not say is when things will be done, only that I have started the process. I am going to need prayers, encouragement, and gift cards to Starbucks or any other donation of coffee to survive this whole endeavor.  I'm sure I can count on you guys for at lest the first two!
   
    I am so excited to see where this is going to go. Nervous too, but that is just part of the package deal.  As I write this, I keep thinking of a quote from Lord of the Rings (yes, another one, I am a nerd, after all), a bit of advice that Bilbo gave to Frodo.

    "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door.  You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."

    Now some would read this as a warning, and in part it is.  I also think that Bilbo knew that it would inspire the same thirst for adventure in Frodo that he himself had.  They were both a bit on the Tookish side, so the idea of being swept off to places unknown probably did more to encourage them to go running off than it did to discourage them. Yes, stepping out of my door is going to be a dangerous undertaking, but I'm feeling a bit Tookish myself. Whatever comes, it will be an adventure, that's for sure.


 
 May your own adventures be exciting and, if you're lucky, have a dragon or two.
Kristina.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Of splash pads, sharks, stars, and sunburns.

         It's been a couple of weeks since our vacation, and I'm still enjoying the stress relief it brought me!  Our five days at the lake side cabin proved to be everything I had hoped, and more, and I have come back to the daily grind refreshed and ready to get back to business.  
       We spent most of the time chilling out at the splash pad and pool, trying to help the kids gain more confidence in the water.  Both Ayden and Kathryne made some really good progress, but Ayden really surprised me.  He'll be swimming in no time! We, unfortunately, didn't get much time at the beach due to a few unfortunate circumstances.  On the first day we planned to go, swarms of sharks had appeared all along the waters of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, which led officials to close many of the beaches, and warn people on other stretches of sand to stay out of the water, just in case.  By the time the sharks had scurried away, and the beaches opened again, red flags went right back up.  There were some very strong currents and rip tides,  which makes swimming dangerous even for strong swimmers.  We finally managed to squeeze in some beach time on our last day along a stretch of water that is not as prone to strong waves, but we still had to stay in very shallow waters.  Even then, it made for some good fun and photos!

     Our adventures weren't just limited to water, though.  We spent an afternoon walking around the Gulf Shores Zoo, which was fun at first, but it got hot quickly, and I think the kids may be growing out of their zoo phase.  They enjoyed more our trip to the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola.  We arrived in time to see the line forming to go watch the Blue Angels practice over the air strip!  Granted it was a long wait, very hot, and ended up giving Ben and I a nice bit of sun burn (the kids were, thankfully, spared), but it was amazing!  I'd never actually had the chance to see them before, so this was a wonderful experience for all of us.  Well, at least until Kathryne started fussing.  I think it was less to do with the noise (I DO have video proof that she was enjoying herself at first) and more to do with the fact that she was hot, tired, and hungry.  Ayden lasted the entire show though, and spent the whole museum trip talking about how he was going to be a Blue Angel pilot one day.  He is now the proud owner of a large, die cast blue angel model airplane that has fueled many hours of imaginative play.

      In addition to some much needed R and R, I also made sure to keep up the work outs.  Yep, you read that right.  I did not use vacation as an excuse to slack off!  While I was only able to get in one run, I still did my weights every other night, and spent a great deal of time doing other physical activities.  I made sure to swim laps in the pool, did an impressive amount of walking, and basically did what I could to stay active.  I must have done something right, because by nine or ten most nights I was crawling into bed, and falling asleep the moment I made contact with the pillows.  If you know me, you know that this is a very unusual thing for me to do.

     The one run I was able to manage was short, but still a big achievement.  I have never had the chance to do a run on the beach.  It's something I've always wanted to do, but I have always been too afraid to give it a try, because I knew it would be one of the hardest things I've done yet. After doing the mud run, I finally had the courage to push myself to do it.  I set what I believed was a reasonable goal of one mile. We would start at the pier, and go from there.

   Let me just say this.  I cussed more in that one mile, than I did the entire mud run.

    Barely a quarter mile in, I was already wanting to give up.  My legs burned, my chest hurt, and my pinkie toe was throbbing.  No really, it was!  Luckily Ben was not about to let me give in.  At half a mile, I was determined.  I stopped to catch my breath, and was feeling all smug about how far I'd come until I saw how "not far" we had come from the pier.  I believe I said the "F bomb" a few times.  Still, I kept going.  I had a good flow of music, and after coming half way, I was sure as hell not going to give up.  Three quarters of a mile in, I had a come to Jesus moment because I thought I was dying.  Then finally we came up on that last stretch.  I wanted to give in, but my destination was just ahead.  You see, the thing about running on that beach is that it lacked the twists and turns that my usual routes take.  This meant I could clearly see what I had accomplished, which made a much bigger impact than seeing it mapped out on my GPS.  Sure, I cussed a little more, yelled at Ben, shed a tear or two, and doubted my sanity, but I finished that mile.   And you know what?  I want to do it again.  Knowing now that I can do it, I am going to go back one day and challenge myself to go beyond a mile.
   

     After that, we sat down on the beach and just watched the waves roll in for a while.  This was mostly a chance to let me catch my breath again, and reassure myself that I was indeed still alive, but to also just enjoy the quiet of the ocean, and the stars above.  I so rarely get a chance to run at night in Mobile, and when I do, you really can't see the stars like you could that night at the beach. I was so busy fussing about how hard the run was, that I didn't notice the beauty all around me.  I was glad for that break because I made sure to look up to the skies on the return run, which made it much more enjoyable. Our break finished, we hiked it up to the road, which ran through the national park, and back to the pier.  In the end, I had only run two and a quarter miles, but I was okay with that. After starting out not even believing I would make even one mile, I am very pleased with what I achieved.  Thank you, Ben, for running with me and pushing me to do something I didn't think I could do.

     The vacation also proved to be a good chance to learn some new work outs to help me build up my arms.  Most of my lifts focused on my biceps, chest, and shoulders but nothing really for my triceps.  Dad showed me some new workouts that I am going to incorporate into my weekly routine to help build up those muscles now, though I am considering having a day specifically focusing on my triceps and abs.  Knowing myself, and my current strength, it will likely be the best option for me.

     I've also set for myself a new goal.  I enjoyed wearing my two piece, and proudly showed off my mum-tum, but I want to look even better next year. There will never really be any sort of perfection, unless I go for plastic surgery, but I'm going to do what I can to make myself look better in a bathing suit. I discovered a new confidence that I never knew I had during those days at the pool side, so with continued work, I know that my confidence will only go up from here. And, upon reaching my goal (because I WILL reach it), I am going to reward myself with a new bikini next year. That is DEFINITELY something I look forward to.

Hope everyone enjoys the rest of summer. Stay safe and wear sunscreen!
Kristina

 









     

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A LONG overdue update.

   It's been a very long time since I last wrote something on here, but a few recent changes have prompted me to get back to writing.  And, I admit, I realized how much I missed this blog. It was something that kept me honest with myself, and something that inspired many of my friends.  With so many now starting their life changes, I thought it would be a good idea to return to Jiggle Proof.
   I'm not running as far or as regularly as I was, mostly three or four miles two or three times a week, but I still enjoy it.  I've started focusing more on weight lifting and muscle building now more than anything. I have a lot of extra skin on my legs and arms that is left over from my weight loss, and the only way to really "tighten" it, is to build muscle to fill up where the fat once took up space.
Finally seeing some muscle!
  So far I've had some really good results. I'm very pleased with the shape my arms and legs are in, as compared to a few weeks ago when I started my new weight lifting routine. I am opting for higher weight and fewer reps to build up bulk, because quite frankly I would like to look like I could kick someone's ass.  And with how buff Ben is getting in preparation for police academy, my competitive nature took over.  He may have stronger arms, but he can only do half the squats I can, and that is without weights.  The friendly competition helps inspire both of us to really push ourselves.

    I'm still dancing with One Step Ahead, and just danced my second recital a couple of weeks ago.  It was an absolute blast, and I have found that I really enjoy being up on stage and dancing.  I am in a class with an amazing group of ladies who make Monday a more tolerable day, and who have become some of my best friends in the last couple of years. Not all that long ago, I wouldn't have had the confidence to dance on stage, or wear our performance uniform, which is basically skin tight tops with booty shorts.  But not only do I wear said outfit, I wore it down town while dancing in a Mardi Gras parade.  How's that for confidence?
Portrait day for dance.  LOVE this costume!
See..skin tight with booty shorts!



Can you tell I've gained confidence?
Me and the Monday night hip hop ladies.  
Getting ready to dance the finale
    Also of note is that I ran my first mud run a couple of months ago. Yep, you read that, me on an obstacle course.  It challenged me, big time, but a couple of years ago I wouldn't have even been able to do some of the easier obstacles.  I came in 5th out of eight in my age group.  That may not sound like much to some, but for me, that was a HUGE achievement.  I have the poster and medal hanging up on my wall right now, reminding me every day of what I can achieve when I put my mind to it.
Crossing the finish line with a big smile!

    Now for the BIG reason for my update here.  I am going to be wearing a bikini for the first time...at least since I was MUCH younger. Now I don't have flat abs, I'm still a bit chubby thanks to my mommy pooch and apron, and I have some impressive stretch marks, but I am going to wear it.  I have lost 80 pounds, and I want to show it off.  I don't want to wait for corrective plastic surgery!  I'm going to rock that two piece this week.  Besides, when I look at where I was, and where I am now I have to stop and think...WOW I look so much better!
 
That was then


This is now!
   
 
























     I'm looking forward to regularly updating my blog again, and starting back with the record of my fitness journey.  I may have fallen off the wagon for a while, but I've climbed back on now, and I am feeling great.  Ever since taking back my body, I've learned to appreciate it more, and my continued pursuit of fitness is a mark of that appreciation.
 
As always I wish all of my readers the very best of luck with their own goals, and pray that you have a good journey on your way to fitness.
-Kristina






Friday, June 7, 2013

Of trials and tragedy

     The past few weeks, heck, even the past few months have been very trying on my patience.  Lately, running has been a challenge due to some breathing issues.  Essentially I have been ignoring my symptoms, passing them off as allergies, when I knew for a fact that asthma had reared its annoying head again.  One of the Pastors at my church, who is an avid runner as well, joked that I was behaving like men do when they are sick.  Okay, I'll give him that, he was right!   But when I could no longer run, or even breathe comfortably on a regular basis, I finally had to break down and see a doctor.   I'm doing much better, now that I am treating the symptoms with an inhaler.  With any luck, systems will be fully restored soon.
     And then it hits me that I can recover.  It hits me that I can work through this to get back to regular running, and training.  There are those, sadly, that can not say the same due to some pretty cowardly acts in Boston.
    When you are runner, you almost feel like you are part of this fellowship.  I've noticed it often when I run at the park, and I come across another runner.  We give this knowing grin and nod of a head as if to encourage one another.  I've also come across this bond at work, where a lot of runners use our track, and we often discuss the joys and frustrations we all face.  We throw tips and ideas back and forth,  We encourage each other over this shared love of running.
    So when the bombs went off in Boston, a part of me hurt along with all those who were there that day.  Every story I heard about someone killed, or hurt in turn made me really appreciate this community we have.    In the aftermath, it just amazed me to see people come together to help those affected by the bombings. I was particularly touched by the tales of men and women who ran straight through the finish line, and to hospitals or blood banks to donate blood.  Basically, we acted like a family.  Which, to tell the truth, we are family.  We don't share common blood, heck we don't all know each other.  We just all love to run.
     But we can look past the fact that there are quite a few people that lost their ability to run that day, either to death or injury.  Sure, some may find ways to come back, but not all of them.  Some of them may find a new love or hobby, but not all of them.  In essence, the bombings took more than life or peace of mind....it took away the JOY of running.
    When your feet take to path and pavement, you can let go of everything.  You can go into your own world, and leave behind all the frustrations and worries you feel.  It is great sense of freedom.  But they nearly ruined it by making people afraid of losing life or limb to something that should bring happiness.   It saddens me to think that this sport that people once loved may now bring them pain or fear, when it should ease those emotions.
    And to think I was upset because I had a small issue breathing, something that is easily fixed with medication.  I appreciate my running even more now, and encourage others to do the same.  Acts of terror, which I think is good description for the Boston bombings, are not simply attacks on people, but on ideals.  This was very much the case with Boston.
   Still, they cowards that did this over looked an important fact.  I do not think they understand that they attacked a very stubborn population of people.  You see, runners have to fight through quite a lot. Our bodies are not exactly meant to run in the way we demand they do.  But we run anyway.  We push through injuries, aches and pains, physical limits, and so on. In other words, we seem to all enjoy breaking past obstacles.
      I used the word stubborn, but perhaps a better term would be driven.  We are a driven group of people.  I have to believe that the injured will find a way to come back.  I believe that those who were emotionally hurt will find solace again, if not in running, than in other means of finding peace.  And I believe the rest of us, who were only distant witnesses to the attacks on our brothers and sisters, will continue to encourage them in their recovery.  That is what families do!
     Nothing will stop us, be it a small thing like asthma or a tragedy like the bombings.  Runners, like any athlete, do not give up.  We may slow down, we may catch our breath, but we do not stop.


Kristina

Friday, May 17, 2013

I'm Baaaaaaack!!!!

   What a crazy past few months!!!  I hate that I have not been able to really post in such a very long time.  Life, unfortunately, has made that a bit of a challenge.  Thankfully things are settling down now, so that I can get back on track with both my weight loss and my blogging.
   We've been busy trying to finish up and get settled after a fairly big move.  We are officially out of apartments, and in to a nice rental house.  The down side of that, though, is that we are still without internet service, hence why it has not exactly been easy to post blogs.
   The kids are just about to finish up their first round of C-Sports at church.  My babies are T-Ball players!  When did they get old enough to play a sport, huh?

    I'm still working at Christ United with the recreation ministry.  It takes up a few evenings a week, and pretty soon it will take over my Saturdays this summer.  It may mean more hours, but I certainly can not complain about the boost in pay!  Unfortunately, it makes it hard to find time to run.  With any luck, once dance settles down, it won't be such a challenge!  After all, I have to be ready for my half marathon in January!  Thirteen miles....have to say, that is a little bit intimidating!
    Hopefully my posts will become regular again, assuming things continue to slow down.  I have a few that I have written over the break that I have been unable to post due to lack of internet, but I will have them up soon.  

Kristina
     

Friday, March 1, 2013

A wise investment

    Life is full of wise investments, like a new home, or a reliable car.  Your health is one such investment.  As I myself have learned, poor health can have a negative impact on all parts of your life, not just physical well being.  However, there are long term details that often go ignored when you consider obesity and fitness.  In the long term, people who are obese generally suffer more health issues than those who are fit.  The cost of treating illnesses like heart disease and diabetes is overwhelming, and the earlier you develop such a condition, the longer you will have to treat it.  Not to mention, the mental and physical toll those illnesses take on a person can be devastating.  But when you stay fit, and keep yourself healthy, you do your future self a favor.  You can prevent weight related disease, spare your joints, and generally just feel better.
    So what exactly does an investment into health take?  Well, here are a few investments to consider.

1) Invest your time.
    This one is pretty obvious, since getting healthy takes time.  You have to set aside part of your day to exercise and get active.  It has not always been easy for me.  It took a long time for me to be able to see my work outs as free time, instead of taking away free time.  It also means getting up early on days that I will not have my evenings free, robbing me of that oh-so-precious sleep in time. I would be lying if I said I enjoy getting up early.  I have never been, nor will I EVER be, a morning person.  However, if I want to reach my goals, it is a sacrifice I have to make. But your work outs are not the only thing that require time.
    When you start, you need to invest time in to research.  First, dedicate some of that investment into researching different work outs you want to try. It will require a few rounds of trial and error to find workout or athletic activity that you really enjoy and will stick to, so do not get discouraged if it takes a while.  Once you get that settled, take time to research any equipment you will be using when you exercise.  Sometimes the best way to find out how worthwhile a piece of equipment is, is to read up on the opinions of those who actually use it.  You can ask around to family and friends, or go online and look up ratings and reviews for the item to help you in your search.
   It is also wise to invest time in to creating a weekly menu with healthy meals, and looking up healthier ways to cook some of your favorite meals.  This also means trying to create typically store bought foods from scratch.  You will be more likely to stick to healthy eating when you have a set menu for each week.
    Most importantly, invest some time into meeting with a health care professional.  Go in for a basic check up so you can have your blood pressure taken, and cholesterol levels looked at. This way you, and your doctor, can keep a record of how your health improves as you get in to shape!  Your doctor will also have a good idea of what your physical limits are, and together you come up with work outs that will not only help you achieve the goals you want, but will also keep you safe while doing so.  Not to mention, a good doctor will be a cheerleader, and give you some support along your way to a healthier you!

2) Invest your money.
    This one can be a challenge, specially considering the current economy. Truth be told, you really do not have to invest a lot of money to get healthy.  A walk at the park or around your neighborhood is free.  But there are some things that you would be wise to spend a little money on.  The first would be a good pair of shoes, if your workout of choice requires it.  Be sure to go to a store that has trained staff to help you find the type of shoe that your feet need.  That staff member should take the time to discuss your current level of activity, watch you walk (or run, if you are running), look at the shape of your feet, and take in to account any health issues you have to help you find what you need.  The $115 investment I made in to a good pair of New Balance running shoes made all the difference in the world to my knees, ankle, and back.  Not only was I less sore after a run, I was able to increase my distance by quite a bit!  If you want to find a store that DOES assist with shoe selection, I highly suggest McCoy Outdoor.  They were very helpful, and we found the perfect pair of shoes after only two tries.
    Go ahead and set up a good budget if you do not already have one, because fresh fruits and vegetables, and cooking from scratch can cost more than buying processed foods.  To save money, we often shop at farmer's stands and the Flea Market for our produce.  Most of it is locally grown, which drives the cost down, allowing us to eat healthier on a tight budget.   Also, part of weight loss means you should eat out less, which will save you a fair chunk of change.  Use the money you save from that towards your healthier menu. 
     Now that you have done your research in to any equipment you may need, be it fitness gear, braces and supports, or clothing (specially for women, a good athletic bra will save you a LOT of pain), you can start making purchases. While price may not always reflect quality, do not be afraid to pay a little more for something that you really like and works for you, or that you read good reviews for. If you are interested in joining a gym or finding a personal trainer, the same advice applies.  Research, budget, and go for it!
    Also invest in a decent music player if your phone does not already function as one.  I will be the first to admit that a good play list can make or break my workouts.  A basic Ipod shuffle will run you about $49 these days.  Simple mp3 players can start at $29, and go up from there.  If you will be using your phone, you can use a variety of music apps like Iheartradio, Slacker, or Pandora.  Personally, I enjoy Pandora's work out stations.  Though it takes a little tweaking, Pandora usually plays a good song rotation for me. In addition to a music player, try to find a case with which to carry it (I need to take my own advice on this one).  Look for ones that have adjustable arm bands, and are water proof so that sweat, rain, and humidity won't damage your phone or music player. Now as far as head phones go, that is all a matter of opinion. I prefer a cheap pair of gas station ear buds, because they are easily replaced and stay in my ear better than other types of head phones!

3) Invest blood, sweat, and tears.
   The biggest thing you need to invest in to your health is dedication.  Like most things in life, you get out what you put in.  When you give your dedication and hard work, you will enjoy many wonderful benefits.  As tempting as it is to give in to quick weight loss diets and miracle drugs, they generally do not work. I can not say it enough, you get what you give.  All these programs promise results with little effort, but to lose weight, and keep it off you have to put in the hard work. On top of that, while they may help you lose weight, only exercise and good nutrition will make you fit. Smaller numbers on the scale do not automatically mean you are healthy, which is why I try to emphasize the importance fitness in addition to weight loss.
    I can truthfully say that I  have invested my blood, sweat, and tears into my transformation.  I've had a few injuries here and there.  Blisters, Achilles pain, damaged toenails...and let's not go in to the acne that has decided to return.  It would seem my skin does not realize that I am twenty-six, not sixteen.  I suppose I can't complain too much about that!   I most certainly have sweat, as evidenced by the sweat stains on some of my clothing.  Speaking of which, I do believe I have some laundry that needs to washed.  And I have cried.  I've shed tears of pain and frustration, but also tears of relief and joy through all of this.  The good tears definitely make up for the sad ones!

  4) Invest faith
    No matter what belief you follow, faith will get you through.  For me it is faith in God, faith in myself, and faith in my purpose for doing this - my family. When you hit a bump, or when you find that plateau and you want to give up, don't. So often people give up when they have even a small struggle with a life change.  But it is those times when you should fight even harder. In doing so you overcome another obstacle, and you will realize just how strong you are.  You just have to believe in something.  Above all, though, believe in yourself.

As much as I have had to sacrifice, it has all been worth it.  The investments made have paid off beautifully.  Like with any investment there are risks.  Without a doubt, though, the benefits outweigh those!  Good luck with your own investments and life changes, and may they grant you the returns that I have found!
Kristina