Thank you, Arlene, for sharing this incredibly inspiring story of positive change with us. We hope our FFF J2W Lady-Crew will enjoy learning more about Arlene…and be inspired to grab life the way she has!
Not too long ago I walked out of the doctor’s office in tears when my gynecologist told me I should not have any more babies with the risk that my babies could lose their mommy during childbirth or due to chronic hypertension, diabetes or stroke at early age. Never mind that I was thirty pounds overweight or my husband’s constant nagging of having more on my plate than he did or family members making a point to comment about my weight at family functions. I could not bear the thought of my kids not having a mommy. I had to change.
I’ve also reached a point in my life when everyone thought I had everything is now all gone when a joint venture with my sister, long time family friend with our husbands decided to close our business. My husband and I with our two kids decided to move in with my parents as we transitioned out of the closing of our business. But I didn’t lose anything. I had my husband, my children, my parents, my sister and friendships still intact and our health. In my mind, I still had everything, but the pressures of other’s perceptions were the hardest to deal with. My parents thought my sister and I had failed and lost everything, which in turn made them feel they failed as well. My parents had such a strong hold on me, where most of my insecurities stemmed from. While living with my parents, I finally realized one thing… I could not change my parents. They will be and will always be the same and can’t expect them to change. At that point, when I felt everything building up and reached my breaking point, I finally surrendered myself to God. I forgave myself and my parents. I finally felt free.
When I turned 40, I vowed to myself that I will change – mind, body and spirit. My grandmother who’s still living at 103, who lives a life full of prayer, had me realize that I’m only half way through my life and have so much more to live for, so much yet to do. I want to be able to fulfill my bucket list item of skydiving when my son turns 21, and be like some of the 80 something ladies I see at the gym lifting weights or swimming laps in the pool. Here’s my journey of what I did to change my mind, body and spirit, and how I’m continuing my journey to becoming fun fabulous and fierce.
Mind: I’ve always been insecure growing up. Often times it would get the best of me. After getting married, I was so insecure about my job, I would come home complaining and fussing about what really was my own frustrations on how I dealt with things. My husband finally told me: he didn’t want to hear about it, it was bringing him down and that I had to do something about it – either change my job or get myself out of the situation. I’m so grateful for my husband for sticking it through with me and being straight and up front with me. I finally changed my job and changed my outlook with jobs in general. Through all the jobs I’ve had I’ve always had a strong authority figure for a boss with similar personalities. I finally realized that all my bosses are just like my mom. They are very authoritative and commander-like with biting comments. To paint the picture, my mom was called the commander from her siblings while growing up. Don’t get me wrong, my mom has a good heart with good intentions. I’ve always felt I wasn’t good enough or doing enough and stressed myself to points where I felt I couldn’t live up to expectations and complete my tasks. I wasn’t mature enough to accept the individuals as they are, and with their comments personal or not, I took it very personal. What changed? My church invited a guest speaker. He touched on points of why the high rates of divorces, addictions, suicides, etc. He’s a priest who used to be an alcoholic. He talked about his journey overcoming being an alcoholic, his life as a priest and how it felt more like a job. What was his message? The bible talks about to love God first, love one another, love your neighbor as yourself, but it doesn’t emphasize to love yourself. You must love yourself to accept your own faults. Once you do that it’s easier to accept and forgive others faults. That’s where my journey to change my mind began and will continue through every encounter. My relationship with my mother is so much better. As much as my mom wants me to be like her, I am so different than her. There are times when I miss my late aunt who always reassured me that I looked fine that my style is my own. I have an awesome relationship with my boss, with his many faults and who I would’ve despised and would’ve been unhappy working for earlier in my life, I now accept and deal with much better. Sometimes I think, certain individuals with similar traits come into your life unwanted or not, until you finally accept it. I’m grateful for all the authority figures in my life, from my mom to all the bosses, as they were stepping stones to help me become a better me.
Body: When I turned 40, my best friend (I’ve known since we were 6) and I decided to join the gym and signed up with trainers. In six months I lost significant amount of weight from the group classes and new techniques I learned from my trainer. I told me trainer one of my goals was to change the look of my body. He was up front with me and told me was that you have to have the heart to change and work hard. Some have the genetics to quickly build their muscles with definition, others have to work harder. My best friend and I also tried the Flat Belly Diet, which taught me significantly on portion control and eating a balanced diet. I often battled with emotional, stress eating, but I was able to overcome it when I started loving myself. This was key to help change the body. I lost my last 10 pounds from diet alone. In less than a year, I lost 30 pounds, 6% body fat and completely transformed my body. The results were better than I expected. I am probably the thinnest I’ve ever been my entire life. I went from size 8-10 to 0. I was taken off two blood pressure medications. I no longer wheeze from asthma with intense activity and hardly sneeze with seasonal allergies. I’ve reduced my risk of diabetes and stroke. I reached my goals as I was ending my 40th year, I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been and added at least 20 more years to my life to be there for my children. My fitness journey still continues and now challenging myself with heavy lifting and trying new things with FFF.
Spirit: Often times I hear my sister and girlfriends talk about how they’ve lost themselves and don’t know who they are, what their interests are. We’re so engulfed in our families and activities with no time for ourselves. I felt like I was missing something in my life as well, until one day while sitting in mass (catholic church gathering) everyone was called out to find what they can do for their community. While listening to the teens sing and play the guitar and drums, what I missed most was playing the piano. As the dusty piano sits in the front living room of my house, I realized that music has always been integral to my life. Since I was a baby, my parents and their friends were constantly singing around a piano and dancing. I started playing the piano at age 6. I would sing and play the piano at every family function. I started my church ministry in the youth choir as the piano accompanist. Through high school and college, I joined school and universities choirs and even doo wop workshops. After college, I did a little bit of church masses when my aunt was still alive and would often times sing at a couple of my friend’s weddings. But after getting married and having children, everything with music went to a standstill for more than ten years of my life. It suddenly didn’t become important. It became a devoid space in my life, my piano became just a decorative piece of furniture, until the calling at church. I now play the piano with the teens at my church. It is the one thing that fulfills my life and fulfills me spiritually as well. What were great influences in my life growing up from the choir and music directors, I’d like to someday be for the teens as they journey into their lives. Search through your childhood and life and find out what fulfills your spirit. You might even discover it by trying new activities through FFF.
What’s on my horizon now – learning to be more grateful. I’m seeing so many great benefits.
The FFF movement is an awesome thing. Everyone has a story to tell and share. There’s always room to learn from each other. Thanks for allowing me to share my story.
We’re so inspired by Arlene – what an amazing way to transform her life. She makes it sound so easy but I’m certain it was a journey…and clearly well worth all of that work! Getting all that fear out of her way and being deeply honest with herself seem to be the keys to her success.