Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Resolve to Change

So, Friday rings in a New Year.

No matter where you stand on the matter, I know secretly everyone has at least one thing they want to change or do for themselves to be a better person or live a better life.  Maybe it's concrete and measurable like "losing weight" or "quitting smoking."  Maybe it's more ethereal like "enjoying life" or "worrying less."

Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
Isaiah 43:18-19a

The problem with resolutions is they typically fail.  They might last two to three weeks, but most of the time, they are by the wayside by January 31.  That's so sad.  Exactly two years ago, I determined to lose weight and change my life.  It took more than a year to lose all the weight, but I am living proof that New Year's resolutions do work if you want them to succeed.

The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.
Proverbs 21:5

Since my blog is about my journey towards fitness, I want to share with you my goals for 2016 and talk about ways you can actually accomplish your resolutions.

Goal #1:  Goal #2:  I REALLY want to bench press 100 lbs.  For a man, this is nothing, but for me, it's a lot of weight and seems really far away from where I am today.  I have been working towards increasing my weights and had a pretty significant setback when I hurt my back.  But I am determined to make this happen.

Goal #2:  Goal #1:  Finish my degree.  Wait, this really should be Goal #1.  So it is now officially Goal #1!

Goal #3:  Increase my speed when cycling.  At my best, I rode about 15 - 18 MPH.  (18 is pretty high.)  I want to increase my speed to about 17 - 19 MPH.

Goal #4:  I want to read my Bible more often.

So, these are my goals, some are fitness related, others not.

How do you go about accomplishing your goals?  Do you just write them down and say, "Ok, this is what I want to do," then take a stab in the dark and see if you hit your target?  Do you set a timeline?  What do you do?

Make every goal measurable.  

Even if your goal is more spiritual or emotional in nature like, "Be kinder," if you want to accomplish your goal, you need to be able to measure it.  How do you plan to be kinder?  How do you plan to worry less?  Make your resolutions SMART goals.  They are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

If you want to lose weight, how much weight do you want to lose?  Be specific.  If you weight 350 lbs. and want to lose 175 in one year, that is probably not attainable or realistic.  So, think in terms of how many pounds per week do you want to lose.  A SAFE goal is 2 lbs. per week and that may be somewhat lofty, but it's a good starting place and you can adjust it accordingly after one month.  Be Timely. When do you want to accomplish your goal?  What's the realistic time frame?  If you want to lose 175 lbs total, one year may be unrealistic, but 100 lbs. in one year is probably within your reach.

If your goal is not easily measurable, turn it into a measurable goal.  If you want to be kinder, think about strategies you CAN accomplish to be kind.  Maybe you will / can:
  • Volunteer at the local soup kitchen four times this year
  • Call your mother at least once a week
  • Reach out to an elderly neighbor and have coffee with him / her every other week
  • Read two books about kindness and gratitude by the end of June.   (Try Happier by Andy Lacroix or The Power of Kindness by Piero Ferrucci)
These steps to "be kinder" are specific, measurable, attainable, relatively realistic and they have time frame.

Be realistic

Is whatever you want to accomplish something you can actually do?  Is it practical?  Do you need help?

For me, I want to read my Bible more often, but I know reading it every day is completely unrealistic.  So, I am going to read three - four chapters per week, starting with Psalms, then the New Testament.  It's a pretty weak goal, but is three - four chapters more per week than I am reading now, so I feel like the bar is low enough for me to actually attain it.

Create a Plan

What steps are you going to talk to accomplish your goals?  If you want to lose weight, what's the method of attack?

I recommend the following:
1)  Drink at least 64 oz. of water every day, increase to 100 oz. if you are exerting a lot of effort or are working out in the heat.  (Like when I ride my bike.)
2)  Find a reliable nutrition plan.
I recommend following the guidelines on MyFitnessPal (MFP).  Set up an account and log EVERYTHING you eat.  Make sure you are eating enough.  If you are not eating at least 1,300 calories per day, you are not eating enough.  Not eating enough slows your metabolism, which is the opposite of what you want.  Trust me on this.  You can customize your nutrition goals, editing the calories and macros according to what works best for you.  This takes time to figure out.  Message me if you need help and I will walk you through it.
MyFitnessPal  you can friend request me:  tracoleman99
Start with the focus on calories and gradually look at your nutrients to see how you are doing with macros (carbohydrates, fat and protein).  If Weight Watchers if your choice, that's okay because it is healthy.  Just be careful about other plans which eliminate food groups entirely or limit certain foods (like tomatoes).  It's probably wise to cut out ice cream and cookies, but fruits, vegetables and lean proteins are essential.  There are no "bad" fruits or vegetables.

3)  Exercise - both cardio and weights.
If you don't workout at all, get in three workouts per week to start.  Increase to four workouts per week for the month of February.  Many people think cardio is the only form of exercise they need when trying to lose weight.  It's not enough.  You want to build muscle mass to increase your metabolism.  It's a slow process but it works.  I am living proof.

I lift weights six out of seven days per week.
My cardio of choice is riding my bike.  With the cold weather, I rely on the elliptical and HIIT at the gym, with walking and hiking to give me some variety.  I do cardio two - three times per week, although I have been trying to walk at least four times per week.
4)  Read about nutrition and exercise.
If you create a MyFitnessPal account, I recommend subscribing to their blog.  I get some great fitness and health tips and they have healthy recipes too.  I also subscribe to BodyBuilding.com and get their articles and fitness tips.  Prevention magazine has some good health tips too.  I peruse this when I'm in line at the grocery store.

I always measure whatever I am reading against what is acceptable / healthy on the whole.  So, if I read about a way to eliminate belly fat in three short weeks, bells start to ring and the word, "gimick" starts to resound in my brain.  There are no quick fixes.

For me, I have to finish my degree.  I don't have much to finish, but I should be done by now.  I have to log the hours, journal them and do my portfolio.

My plan is to: 
A)  catch up with my journal by January 8.  That gives me one week to get caught up.
B)  Spend Saturday mornings working on my portfolio.  No laundry, no cleaning, no gym, no blogging, no Instagram until 12:00 p.m.
C)  Finish by the end of March.

I MUST do this and I have to be really strict with myself.  I have an accountability partner, Cyndi and I will be hitting up a colleague to be an additional accountability person as well.  I might even ask her to help edit my journal because my professor is a stickler about grammar.

Stick with it!
Don't let any excuse get in the way of accomplishing your goals!
The reasons most people give up on their resolutions is they encounter setbacks along the way and do not have the resolve to find ways around the obstacle or endure the discomfort of change.  When I set out to lose weight two years ago, it was VERY slow going for me at first.  I only lost 7 lbs. from January 1 to February 12, which is when I started working with a trainer.  In March, I fell and sprained and fractured my thumb.  The pain was excruciating and pretty much put my training on hold.

For the first seven months, I had to fight with myself the entire way.  This was my mantra:

Don't give up.  
You have to do this.  
You can do this.  
Don't quit.  

If your resolution or your goal is important enough to you, you will accomplish it.  Determine to succeed and you will.  Remember, it takes time.
I didn't get to 232 lbs. overnight.  I was heavy for years.
It took 2014 for me to solidify my plan, a lot of trial and error, but a whole lot of, "Don't give up."
When I started training with Dmitriy, he had "the talk" with me and told me if I wanted his help, "this is what I need to do" or he wouldn't be able to help me.  After a year of doing things my way, I decided to listen to him.  My weight shed off me.  Since August, I haven't really lost any weight, but I have been able to maintain.
 Change takes time.  It takes persistence.  It takes a "never give up" attitude.

Wishing you a very Happy 2016!

Same Old Lang Syne by Dan Folgelberg
Even though this song is about a Christmas Eve encounter between old friends, it reminds me of New Years.  While it is a sad song, it is very nostalgic for me.  Instead of reaching beyond the emptiness this year, hold onto what is good in your life.  Treasure each moment.  Be grateful for your blessings.

Questions for you: 
(Answer in the comment section below.)
What plans do you have for New Years?  Do you have any resolutions?

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Follow me on Instagram:  @tracoleman99

Monday, December 28, 2015


Blessings come in all shapes, sizes and different kinds of surprises.

From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.
John 1:16

Yesterday promised to be particularly difficult. I wasn't feeling well in the morning. (I think my coffee didn't sit right.) Anyway, I worked out at the gym and saw Dmitriy there shortly before I was leaving. We talked for a couple minutes, but I had to leave because I had a wake to attend. One of my former students died the week before Christmas unexpectedly. She was just shy of her 22nd birthday. I was so sad.

Went to the wake. It was as I expected. Extremely sad. There is no logical reason for her death, so trying to rationalize it only proves to frustrate. I left and was so down. I texted Dmitriy, "That was horrible." Turns out he knew her and trained her. What a small world. I wanted to cry.

I was invited to a Christmas party last night. Some friends I met at the gym. Lovely people. Truly. Their daughter is my student and I have a soft spot for her.  I wasn't sure I could go. I wanted to open a bottle of wine, drink the entire thing and cry myself to sleep. (This is particularly NOT smart for me!)  Told Dmitriy that and he was like, "Go. Have fun. Go." Somehow I saw his logic and I went.  I'm really glad I did.

So...the party was amazing. Lots of delicious Puerto Rican foods, plenty of beer and Coqui for everyone, and the most amazing band playing Spanish music. I didn't know any of the songs, so it was an great opportunity for me to sit back and feel the music.

Feel the music

I think the instrument he is playing is called "el guiro."  It's a percussion style instrument.

Even the children were playing one.
 One of the things I love about Puerto Rican people is they know how to party! I mean, there were so many people in their house and everyone was having the most amazing time, dancing, singing along and clapping.  While my heart was still heavy, my spirit lifted and I felt joy.

¡Wepa!* They just kept playing one song after another.  It was an amazing night!

So, you know the movie, "White Men Can't Jump"?  Well, this white girl can't dance.  I wish I could because I'm so jealous of those who have rhythm.  Look at these ladies dance it up!  "¡Wepa!*

I had the most amazing time and am pleased to count the Davilas among my new friends. They are beautiful people.
Vicky & Nelson Davila
My new friends ... a true blessing to me
Take time to appreciate your blessings. Sometimes they come in unexpected form.

People from the gym that were at the Davilas.  New friends in the making.
*Wepa is a Spanish term of excitement.  It loosely means, "All right!  Cool! Yeah!"

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace."
Numbers 6:24-26

Question for you: 
(Answer in the comment section below.)
What fun things did you do this weekend?

Now:  Subscribe to new posts!  When a new post is added, you will receive an email notice so you can check it out.  I promise:  no SPAM and I won't share your email address with anyone.  Look at the top right side of the page to subscribe.  

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Saturday, December 26, 2015

My Favorite Day of the Year

So, it's true, December 26 is my favorite day of the year.  As hard as I tried this year to REALLY enjoy the holidays, to take time to find the Christmas spirit, to enjoy the gatherings and time with family . . . I am so glad it's over.

Today is my annual recovery day.  I tried to sleep in, but that didn't work.  So, by 8:00 a.m., I was at the gym and doing legs.  I hurt my back about three weeks ago (A Step Back) and recovery has been SLOW.  I haven't been able to do much of anything and I lost a lot of my strength.  Not sure how much that's due to eating crap for the past month too.  Anyway, today I did squats and was able to get close to my personal record (145 lbs.).  I worked my way up to two sets at 135# and was super excited too!

After the gym, I visited a friend, came home, had a snack and took a two hour nap.  Got up from my nap, made two pots of chili.  One is typical beef chili, the other is a white turkey chili.  I'm headed out hiking in a minute or two if I can upload this blog entry in time.

I need to get some kale to put in my white chili, but I'm so looking forward to this for dinner tonight!  With some home made cornbread..

Thought I'd tell you about our holidays via photo blog, so here it is...

The day of Christmas Eve was spent cleaning and I got to the gym for a quick foam rolling and cardio workout.  My back was really bothering me, I think from sitting on the floor wrapping presents for two nights in a row.

My friend Erica texted me at like 10 a.m. to ask me if I was at the gym.  I was like, "Umm, no, I'm cleaning.  Here's the evidence."  Apparently she thought she saw my car, but it was in the garage and I was busy dusting and vacuuming.
My way of cleaning up is to put everything in a pile and then stuff it all in a bag. I did ask my husband to help with this pile.
Got to the gym at 2 in time for foam rolling and 30 minutes on the elliptical.  Foam rolling has saved me the past three weeks while I recover from my back injury.
Quote from Dmitriy, "Foam rolling is life."  I agree.
We went to church on Christmas Eve and then to my sister-in-law's.  She puts on an amazing feast.  She is a wonderful hostess.
This is a before dress that I had taken in.  Dmitriy's mother did it for me.  Isn't her work absolutely amazing?  She's really really sweet too.  I told him that she's my new favorite person.  I don't have room for one more, so he's out and she's in.  He laughed.  I do really like her.  She is a beautiful person inside and out.  And I absolutely LOVE my dress.

Look at her Christmas tree.  It's breathtaking.
My niece and nephew are the cutest little kids I've ever laid eyes on.
Brian and his partner, Karen.  Karen is like a sister to me.  She's part of the family.
My niece Jill and Joey
Joey helping Josh with his toys.  This is an annual tradition.
My niece Kara
I am an early riser, so on Christmas morning, I took Koby for a walk.  I think I was overly excited about the warm weather because I left with just a sweatshirt on, took a loop around the block and came back to put a jacket on and my mittens.  Got in 3 miles.  It was awesome.

Breakfast and opening presents
French Toast Casserole.  
I had two servings.  It was soooo good.
Danish from Costco.  This is an annual tradition.  I had half a piece this morning.  
Joey plays Santa.  He gets all the gifts from under the tree and hands them out one at a time to everyone.
Brian and I don't exchange gifts because it's too stressful for me.  We get each other gifts throughout the year, but I can't deal with it at Christmas.  So we each get a little gift.  I got him this Ride to Remember polo.  He likes it.
One of the hazards of losing weight is your clothes don't fit.  My winter coat from last year is so big on me that it looks like a tent on me and the cold air goes up into the jacket.  So, I bought myself a North Face.  I can't wait 'til it's cold enough to wear.
So at about age 10 or 11, Mitch stopped wearing a winter coat or jacket.  Now that he's a grown up and it's COLD in New England, he actually needs a jacket and will wear one.  I got him this.  It's white, so I'm hoping it doesn't get too dirty.
Me and Mitch 
My mother-in-law has dementia and is in a nursing home.  We went to visit her on Christmas morning.  She liked her presents.
 Christmas dinner 
Dad & Joey
My BFF Stacy and her mom, Shirley
My godson, Sam, my Great-Aunt Gloria and my cousin, Whitney
Christmas night we went to see the new Star Wars movie.  I loved it!
After the movie, we saw this crazy VW Bug in the parking lot.  How in the world does this thing even drive?  Does it even have tires?  Or is it driving on the rims?  Crazy things you see on Christmas, that's for sure.
 Merry Christmas!!!!  
Happy December 26th, my favorite day of the year!!

Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano
Brian's favorite Christmas carol

Questions for you: 
(Answer in the comment section below.)
Was Santa good to you?

Now:  Subscribe to new posts!  When a new post is added, you will receive an email notice so you can check it out.  I promise:  no SPAM and I won't share your email address with anyone.  Look at the top right side of the page to subscribe.  

Follow me on Instagram:  @tracoleman99

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Last Minute Recipes

Food has been my life these past few weeks.  I injured my back a little over a week ago and had to take some time off from working out.  Instead of feeling lost without the gym, I went on a roll cooking and baking.  Add to that, I've been to numerous Christmas parties, received Christmas cookies, and celebrated my son's 21st birthday.

I've cooked or baked just about all the recipes I've shared with you so far:
My Favorite Recipes   
More Recipes
and Holiday Recipes, Third Edition

Almost all of these recipes are no corners cut, so they are full fat and full sugar.  As you are preparing for the holidays, plan your day so you have lots of fresh vegetables and lean protein, one light dessert option.  Allow yourself a couple of "off the chart" treats and eat them in moderation.  The key to long term success is to have an overall healthy nutrition plan and still be able to eat the things you enjoy in moderation.  You don't want your daily week to week menu to be full of this kind of "full fat and full sugar" food, save it for special occasions,  I follow flexible dieting, which allows you to eat what you want as long as it fits into your calories and macro-nutrients.  I count every calorie!  It has been very hard this season.  I won't lie.  But it is doable.

This post has a couple long time favorites and a couple new recipes I tried this season.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

2 chicken breasts*, cooked and shredded
1 8 oz. packages of cream cheese
1/2 C Ranch dressing
1/2 - 3/4 C Buffalo sauce (I used Frank's Red Hot Wings Buffalo sauce)
1 C Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
1 package (bag) Tostitos Scoop tortilla chips, crackers or carrots and celery sticks

Substitute Blue cheese dressing for Ranch dressing
If using Blue cheese dressing, substitute 4 oz. Blue cheese crumbles for the Jack cheese

*You can use canned chicken OR roasted / rotisserie chicken from Costco or your local grocers store.  It's up to you.  I put some chicken breasts into the oven.

Heat oven to 350F.  Mix cream cheese and Ranch dressing together.  Add Buffalo sauce.  Pour into a 1 quart baking dish (or pie plate), stir in chicken and Jack cheese.  Bake 30 minutes, or until bubbly.  Serve with tortilla chips, crackers or veggies.

Side Dish
Twice Baked Potatoes

This is an annual tradition.  I make these every year and serve them with our Christmas dinner.  They are a nice treat!  I make them ahead, freeze them and then bake them on Christmas day.
This is BEFORE baking a second time.  I won't be doing that until Christmas day.
5 baking potatoes*
1 lb. bacon
1 C sour cream
1/2 C butter (1 stick)
2 C shredded cheddar cheese (or Monterrey Jack)
salt & pepper to taste

1.  Bake your potatoes at 350F for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, however long it takes for them to be fully baked.  If you pierce them before cooking them, do it on the side of the potato.  You need 1/2 as many potatoes as the guests you expect to feed.  I always make more than I need and usually buy larger potatoes for this.
2.  Cook your bacon, pat excess fat from the bacon, cut up into crumbles.
3.  When your potatoes are fully baked, cut them in half length wise.  Scoop out the potato from the skin and place in a mixing bowl, set skins aside.
4.  Mix sour cream, butter and potatoes until well blended.  Add more sour cream or a splash of milk if necessary so the potatoes are a smooth consistency.
5.  Stir in bacon, cheese and salt & pepper.  Add more cheese if you like really cheesy potatoes.
6.  Take potato mixture and place inside potato skins.  You should be able to re-fill each skin.
7.  Place potatoes on a baking sheet and freeze.  Once frozen, place in a freezer bag and store until the day you plan to serve them.
8.  Before serving, bake potatoes at 350F for 30 - 45 minutes.

Banana Cream / Pudding Pie
This one really is a light recipe!!!  No baking required.

2 bananas, sliced
2 packages of sugar free pudding:  I like this with vanilla pudding, but you can use chocolate or banana pudding if you like
3 C. low fat milk (or skim)
1 graham cracker crust (6 oz.)*
1 8 oz. container of light Cool Whip (or non-dairy whipped topping), thawed in the refrigerator

*If you use the larger crust (9 oz), increase other ingredients proportionately.  (3 bananas, 3 pkg. pudding., 4 1/2 C milk)
Also, Keebler makes a low fat version of the crust if you like.

1.  Place sliced bananas in the bottom of the crust.
2.  Mix pudding and milk until blended and thick.  You MUST use less milk than the pudding recipe requires, or the pudding will be too soupy for the pie.
3.  Place pudding over the bananas in the crust.  Refrigerate until thoroughly set.
4.  Serve with a dollop of whipped topping.

Pumpkin Bread
I was on a baking binge this year with the pumpkin breads.  I can't even tell you how many I made.
I slightly modified this recipe from AllRecipes.

1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 C. coconut oil, melted
2/3 C. water
3 C. white sugar
3 1/2 C. all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
2 C. raisins

1.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray three 7x3" loaf pans with cooking spray.
2.  In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended.  In a separte bowl, whisk together remaining dry ingredients.  Stir flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture until just blended.  Stir in raisins.  Pour into loaf pans.
3.  Bake for 50 minutes in preheated oven.  Toothpick test the breads to make sure they are done.
4.  Cool on rack for 10 minutes, remove from pan.  Allow to cool thoroughly.

I love the Trans-Siberian Orchestra 
Christmas Canon by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
I really enjoy the children's choir singing.  Their voices are beautiful, accompanied by the stringed instruments.  Makes my heart flutter when I hear it.

Questions for you: 
(Answer in the comment section below.)
What did you do this weekend?  Did you see Star Wars yet?  How was it?  Do you plan to see it?  Have you seen any great Christmas movies this season?

Now:  Subscribe to new posts!  When a new post is added, you will receive an email notice so you can check it out.  I promise:  no SPAM and I won't share your email address with anyone.  Look at the top right side of the page to subscribe.  

Follow me on Instagram:  @tracoleman99

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Toll It Takes

I've hinted occasionally at my family history of addiction, but I have not really spoken about this.  Today I am daring to break the silence.  They call AA "Alcoholics Anonymous" for a reason, so to preserve my loved one's privacy, I want to discuss what it's like to be on the other side.  What it does to the family of the addict/ alcoholic (I will interchange these words throughout this post) and the impact that has had on my own personal journey towards fitness and health.

When I started this journey two years ago, I weighed 232 lbs. I was in pain 24 hours / day, 7 days / week.  I was depressed and physically I felt horrible.  
When the alcoholic in my life first started to battle with addiction, I didn't really recognize it for what it is.  I blamed this person for drinking too much, for being inappropriate, for the angry outbursts, for being unavailable.  There are a lot of things that happen in your relationship with the addict.  There is a perpetual feeling of walking on eggshells around the alcoholic.  You plead with them to stop, to get help, to go into recovery.  Getting them to admit they have a problem or to even acknowledge that their problem is an addiction can take years.  Getting them to enter treatment is impossible.  The addict needs to realize that s/he has a problem and that s/he can't deal with it on their own.  Nothing you do can convince the alcoholic to change.  This is probably the hardest part.  In fact, in my own case, everything I have done to convince the addict that s/he needs to change has only made them dig their heels in even harder, refusing to stop.

When you fight this battle long enough,. eventually love dies.  While you still care about your alcoholic, the feelings of love and affection you may have had for the person go away.  Holidays and special occasions are often dreaded because you really don't know what to expect from your alcoholic/addict loved one.  Will s/he be sober?  Hung over?  High/drunk?  Loud/obnoxious?  Inappropriate?  Will s/he even show up?  During times of sobriety, when the light is on and the addict is not drinking or drugging, you remember what s/he is like.  There is hope that s/he may actually change.  And then, something happens and the vacation is over.   It's a never ending cycle.

Being a Christian, I pray so much for my loved one to be released from the bondage and cycle of addiction.  I have hope.  But so often, hope is crushed.

In many cases, alcoholism and drug addiction occur as a result of self-medicating a mental illness.  It could be anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder or something else.  The people I know are afraid of the stigma associated with mental illness, so they turn to that glass of wine or a quick "fix" to take the edge off.  The one glass (or fix) isn't enough after a while and the cycle grows to a problem, which becomes an addiction.  The cycle can become deadly.  According to the Center for Disease Control, "alcohol and drug abuse are second only to depression and other mood disorders as the most frequent risk factors for suicidal behavior."  I don't know about you, but this scares me.

I Need a Miracle
by Third Day

If you or a loved one is struggling with depression, or with alcoholism or addiction, I implore you to not give up hope.  Whatever you are facing today, tomorrow is a new day.  You can work through your problems.  Turn to someone you care about, share with them what's going on, how you really feel.  If you don't have someone you trust, call a professional for help. The number for the National Suicide Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.  Put that number in your contacts.  Being a counselor, I have the local suicide hotline in my contacts and I often encourage my students or their parents to put it in their phone.  You can save a life with that number.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.  Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
Psalm 34:18-19

If you are struggling with alcoholism, find out where the local AA / NA meetings are here:  Find Local A.A.  Find Local N.A.
Al-Anon / Alateen are groups for the loved ones of Alcoholics.  Many people find comfort in attending this meetings, by learning more about themselves and how they can function better with the alcoholic / addict.

When you love an alcoholic / addict, it often means dealing with unpredictable mood swings, angry outbursts and  erratic behavior.  There is a sense of "walking on eggshells" around this person.  The day before I did the Ride to Remember, I got an angry phone call from my loved one because I had not been attentive enough.  Honestly, I had been avoiding the person because I just didn't want to deal with it.  So when I got off the phone, I said to myself, "Let this call go.  Don't let it get in your head."
In looking at my own fitness journey, I look back at my own struggle with food.  Depression definitely played a significant  role in keeping me from doing anything about my weight and was a key factor in my inability to move forward.  It took me a long time, but eventually I was able to move forward enough to tip the scale in my favor (literally).  I still struggle with anxiety and depression.  My doctor tells me they are two sides of the same coin.  It can be debilitating at times, which is why it's important to acknowledge it for what it is, so it does not interfere with my ability to live a full and healthy life.  There is a stigma associated with alcoholism,  addiction and mental illness.  I am hoping that by talking about it openly here, I can help someone who may be struggling.

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.
Psalm 34:17

Life is precious.  Every moment.  Four years ago this month, my cousin took his own life, leaving a wake of devastation for everyone who cared about him.  Often, you can't know what someone is going through.  Make sure to tell the people  you care about how much they mean to you.  Smile at people on the street and wish them well.  If someone looks down, ask them if they are okay.  If they are down, ask them if they want to talk about it.  Tell them you care.  If you are concerned about someone's well being, if they seem really down, ask them, "Are you thinking about killing yourself?"  Don't be afraid to ask that question.  You could save their life.

In this video created by Mayo Clinic, teens describe common signs that a teen is considering suicide and provide encouragement for communicating directly and immediately for support and safety. It also Includes suggestions for what to say to a teen who may be at risk for suicide and ways to keep them safe. Things can get better.

This may sound cliche, but there is always hope.  Hope for a better life.  Hope in healing and restoration.  Hope that only Jesus can give.

Questions for you: 
(Answer in the comment section below.)
Do you or someone you love battle with alcoholism or addiction?  Do you need help?
If someone you love told you they were thinking about suicide, what would you say / do?

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