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Breaking The Cycle of Bad Choices

Lessons learned the hard way

Hike Oahu

A few weeks ago, I got a call from a friend. He’s more like a brother than a friend. He’s one of the Yodas in my life. You know, the person you go to with any big decision? He’s got profound wisdom to shine much needed light on an otherwise dimly-lit path. That’s him. I want to share with you about a series of phone calls that led to an epiphany that is quickly changing my life.

The Phone Calls

“Hi, Amber. How are you?”

“I’m good, Andrew. How are you?”

“I’m in the hospital. There’s a blockage in my bladder and they’re running tests to find out what and why.”

There was a mention or two about high white blood cell counts, but it was entirely possible he was suffering with an infection. I tried not to put too much energy or thought toward it.

Fast forward a couple of weeks. We were speaking every 2-3 days so it wasn’t altogether odd to see his number appear on my phone 2 days in a row. I picked up. There he was, distraught. His brother (who is a doctor) informed him that it was highly likely that Andrew had a form of Leukemia. All of the thoughts that you could imagine going through your own head when you try to imagine ever receiving such a diagnosis did go through his mind.

After listening, I sent him some encouraging words, all of the love I could muster up and all of my thoughts and healing energy. I prayed. I cried. I didn’t let him hear me cry, but I did cry. I allowed myself to feel whatever came up for me. This carried on into the next day… when I started to feel anger.

The Epiphany

I was so pissed, man! He’s talked about quitting cigarettes for so long. He used to be vegan and he went back to eating a traditional American diet (although to be fair, I don’t know exactly what he ate on a regular basis.) I was just mad. I was mad at him for not taking care of himself and now a man who is absolutely brimming with wisdom was going to be taken from me. HOW DARE HE?!

And then I stopped. I’ve done enough work on myself to know that when I’m feeling like this, there’s a little bit of truth in my thought process, but the way I’m feeling about someone else is almost always a reflection on something in myself that needs work.

Flashback: 2011 I went through a very invasive bariatric sleeve procedure. I’m not a doctor, but I’ll explain to you how I understand what that means. It means that my surgeon effectively removed about 2/3 of my stomach to make it have the appearance of a sleeve (hence it’s name.) Going forward, I would only be able to eat 8 oz. of food at a time. I was approaching 300 lbs quickly and I needed a solution. I met with a nutritionist multiple times. I had a psychiatric evaluation to ensure I could handle the transition I was about to undergo. I had to take classes on what my journey would entail and what I would have to do to make sure the weight didn’t come back.

Here I am, 8 years later, and the weight is coming back. It’s so funny how judgmental others are. I used to be one of those people. How could they have a 2 oz. stomach and be 450 lbs? I can’t explain the science of it, but here’s what I do know. I eat a primarily whole food plant based diet. Maybe 2 times a week, I’ll fudge it up. I drink 1-2 protein rich smoothies a day with plant based yogurt and berries. But I’m still not dropping pounds. Long story short, I’m not a total fanatic about what I eat, but I’m probably 80% better than the rest of the planet with my food.

The Action

I’ve known since I was in high school that if I want to keep weight off, my body type mandates that I move it. Do I like to move it, move it? Um…. No. I don’t understand the people who get their jollies out of running. I do not in any way shape or form feel like Super Woman after I lift weights. I literally hate every form of exercise except dancing.

But the truth is that my anger toward Andrew was grossly misdirected. How dare he strip away his mind and his heart away from the people who love him? How dare he do that to me? What my soul was telling me though, was, “How dare you prioritize your comfort over the gifts that you have to share with the world?”

Over the past few months, it has become evident that I am meant to share what I have learned or am learning with the world. How am I to do that if my body is weak, which leads to illness? I was already diagnosed with fatty liver disease (genetic, as my mom and dad both had/have it). I’m almost 43 years old. Literally, if I don’t start doing something to alter my life, my body will alter me.

And so, here I am in Hawaii, visiting my brother and his family. I’m soaking up as much time and love as I can and I’m soaking up the beauty in nature that is all over Oahu. I’m doing it. I’ve been here 2 days and I’ve hiked 2 mountains/craters – whatever you call them. To me, they’re mountains. Funny thing: When you reach the peak of a mountain and look down at the valley, you see how far you’ve come. You really get to witness the journey of your valleys. I just want to encourage you all to get out of that valley.

Your partner needs you. Your parent(s) need you. Your kids need you. Your nieces and nephews and grandkids need you. The family that you’ve claimed as your own as you’ve made your way through life need you. They need your love. They need your wisdom. They need you. Be there. In no way am I saying it will be easy, but what I am saying is that it will be worth it.

Go back and look at that first photo and tell me my journey wasn’t beautiful. You can’t. I’ve rocked it thus far, with some mistakes along the way. And looking back is only making me climb higher. Here’s to your incredible journey.

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