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How Israel Saved My Life

27 Jan

There are so many reasons that I shouldn’t have gone Israel this summer. Heck, by the time the trip came around, I was 10 days past the age cut-off! Travelling with complete strangers, without the security blanket of familiarity, put me out of my comfort level, to say the least. At JFK, I constantly called E, sobbing, asking him to let me come home. I was grateful for the opportunity, but so unsure of why I had it.

I’ve been home for almost 6 months, and it’s taken me this long to fully absorb the situation, to understand the why’s instead of the how’s. Long story short? It was meant to be.

In ten days, I saw so much of the country, and was constantly on the move. I learned to make a tour bus feel like home, to have almost 30 strangers feel like family.


I was surrounded by art, mysticism and amazing falafel in Safed; rode a camel in the middle of the desert. I prayed at the Western Wall, sat in the same place on Mount Masada where I was Bat Mitzvah’d. I had (a vegetarian!) dinner in a Bedouin tent and swam in the Mediterranean. I cried at Yad Vashem, and  laughed loud and long, covered in mud, and floated in the Dead Sea.

















I hiked, swam, rode and rafted; sometimes in the front, and others in the back. Not once was I alone, physically, emotionally or spiritually. When I struggled, there was someone to carry me through, and at times, I was that person for others. Not once did I count a calorie. Not once was I ashamed of my arms, stretch marks or thighs. Not once did I hold back from a conversation or activity out of fear  or feelings of not being good enough. Not once was I ever not good enough.

Pictures may say thousands of words, and for the first time in a very long time, they’re written all over my face. See that smile? The one in every picture? 100% genuine, my friends.

I went to Israel, looking for a free trip, and I ended up taking quite the journey. At some point, at some time, that nagging little voice inside my soul went silent, as if the Universe was whispering, “shhhhhhhh”.

Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle. It’s work to get through the day, and it takes prioritizing, evaluating and learning to step back in order to do it. The difference between before Israel and after Israel? I want to make it work. I want to grow, to breathe, to be better. I want to be the kind of person that others look up to, and be involved in my community. I want to be a positive force, and be a wife, sister, daughter and aunt that my family is not only proud of, but likes and respects. It’s not about the next 10 pounds or 5 years, even though I’m still aiming for those. Some days might be awful, and some may be filled with light and laughter. And that’s okay. It’s okay to have good days and bad, and even ones that are just okay. I’m not making excuses or giving up; I’m allowing myself to feel, and to be human. Now that I’ve tasted happiness, I’m not willing to give up the craving.


Wk 1 Check-in, 26 to 27

24 May

Hey everyone!

Hope y’all had a rocking weekend – mine was certainly busy! Between family events, working in the yard and my store having a 40% off sale, it certainly flew by. Is it just me, or is the year flying by ridiculously fast?!? I wish there was a way to make it slow on down.

One week ago, I put myself on the 26 to 27 challenge, and it’s time for the first check-in. This week’s highlight was seeing my father and stepmother for the first time since October, which was around 25 lbs. ago. She gave me the best compliment ever, and told me that I looked like I did when I was a little girl, pointy chin and all. I tell ya, it warmed my heart! I weighed in yesterday – I went to take a picture of the scale, and it never occurred to me that the camera would add on weight…duh! Guess you’ll just have to take my word for it. I’m not one to put my weight out there, but for the challenge’s sake, why not?

Beginning challenge weight: 220.9 lbs.

Current weight: 218.7 lbs.

Total lost: 2.2 lbs.

I’m going to be honest, I was not expecting that at all! Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled; I thought I’d be stuck in the 220’s forever. I ate, for the most part, in a way that honoured my body without sacrificing enjoyment, which I’m really happy about. As always, you can check out what I eat on my SparkPeople food tracker. I don’t know how you feel about me posting meals and calorie counts every day; it’s great for accountability, but I really don’t think it’s all that interesting. Agree or disagree?  Either way, here’s a sampling of (most of) what I’ve eaten this week:
Chicken, Black Bean & Rice Burrito

I’m not perfect, and this is definitely proof of that.

  1. Hydrate! The goal was to drink at least 2L of water a day, and I did okay with this one. Most days was between 7 and 8 glasses, with a couple of days at 10. Hot decaffeinated tea has been a big help, as is the water bottle I keep at work, but this is still a huge challenge.
  2. Cut the crap I feel like I did pretty good on this one – I made the best choices possible in most situations, and really thought through what I was eating and why.
  3. Take some Zzzzzz I’m calling this one a big ol’ fail – I think I made it to bed at or before midnight once all week! I woke up at a decent hour most mornings, with one being 9:30 am and one being at 10:30 am. Better, but nowhere near good.
  4. Make meals matter NEED to work on this one more – I haven’t had set or regular meal times all week, and it’s messing up my sleep schedule.
  5. Caffeine-a-no-go Caffeine’s been almost completely cut out; I’ve had half-caff coffee one morning, and some diet orange soda another, but the rest of the week has been caffeine-free.
  6. Shake it! Another success – went to the Y twice this week, worked out once at the hotel while on mini-vacay, and did some arm-busting yard work this aft.
  7. Smell the roses I had a ton of fun this week! We saw David Copperfield and Chicago in concert, saw The Losers, walked, talked and planned some projects we’d like to start on the house. My biggest advancement, though, was to go with the flow. It’s hard to be a planner when you’re trying to be the most accommodating, and with my dad and stepmom in town, I feel like I gave up a lot of control to be able to allow them to have the best trip possible. I’ll admit, it wasn’t too bad, and it did make it much easier to enjoy a short but sweet visit with the ‘rents.

All in all, not too shabby. This week I’m pushing for major hydration, regular meal- and bed-times, and four days in the gym (I’m hoping the pool will be open!). I feel stronger than I did last week, and I think it has to do with making a plan and sticking with it. Despite issues with school and scheduling, I’ve stayed fairly focused, and I’m starting to see the connections in work and play. I need to stay focused and breathe, and everything else will follow in line.  Plus, the more relaxed I am, the more gets done, which translates to more time I get to spend like this:

Have a great week!

Race for Hope 5K, and whatever happened to C25K?

2 May

There are very few things in my life that I need answers to. I know why I gained so much weight, why I’ve had problems with school and social relationships, and what I need(ed) to do to right some wrongs I’ve done to myself and others. I’ve had one nagging question since I was a little kid, and I’ve never gotten an answer.

“Why do I have Epilepsy???”

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it before on the blog, but I’ve suffered from had Primary Generalized Absence Seizures for almost 19 years, and it’s greatly affected my life. I have memory, coordination and balance issues, and I’ve had to give up a lot of activities I loved, like video games, some concerts and clubs, skiing and gymnastics. Like 67% of all epileptics, I’ve also had the co-syndrome of depression and, for me, it’s been the biggest challenge. 70% of all kids with PGA seizures outgrow them, and I did at 12. However, when I was 18, it reared its little head again, and I became one of the few adults with childhood epilepsy. I don’t like to be called a victim or a sufferer, because it could always be much worse. I’ve lived on my own, have no brain damage and having been seizure-free for 9 years, I can drive a car. I’m on medications that have few side effects, and my last brain scan three years ago showed a normal brain.
If I’m okay, then why am I talking about it now?
Because with all I know about PGA, the one thing I don’t know is why.
It’s idiopathic, meaning there aren’t known causes in every case, but can be hereditary. I’m the only one in the family as far back as four generations that I could trace with epilepsy, so it’s a really frustrating answer, and without further research and education by the scientific community, I’ll never know. One way to raise money for research is to participate in fundraisers, so when I heard that the Epilepsy Foundation of Cincinnati was coming to Huntington to start the Race for Hope 5K on May 1st, I knew I needed to sign up. I ended up deciding to walk instead of run, thinking about how much easier it would be.

There was nothing easy about it.

5k is about 3.1 miles, which sounds like nothing, right? It sounded so simple, and every time E would bring it up, I’d brush it off. Never mind that last January, I couldn’t walk a half mile without stopping 2 or 3 times. Never mind that I hadn’t been to the gym in the last week. Whatever, it’s just a 5k. Before the race, I gave myself 2 requirements: finish in 60 minutes, and don’t finish last. I didn’t want to be the one everyone was waiting on or the one that got left behind. I never once took a moment and patted myself on the back for signing up, showing up or doing my best, and I should have.

When the walk started, I power-walked for a little bit, but literally two minutes in, my shins were on fire. Right away, I freaked out, and knew I wouldn’t make it. The walk became more about making it to the next volunteer than leaving folks in the dust, and somewhere along the way it became more about the hope than about the race. I realized that I’ve wasted so much time beating myself up over all the things that I can’t do that I’ve never given a thought to all that I can and that so many people can’t, including walking. I walked for the me’s that I have been, am and want to be. I walked by a funeral and walked on for the someone in the hearse that couldn’t. I walked by Marshall University, and walked on for the people who thought I’d never make it there and those that did. I walked by my bank, our favorite restaurants and city hall. I didn’t stop walking, not even once, not even for a second. I stopped checking the time, my heart rate and the calories burned, because in the moment, they just didn’t matter. At some point, I snapped out of my internal dialogues, and realized that I was almost there. I’m not ashamed to say that I cried as I got closer and closer, and it was so amazingly cathartic. I could feel the pressure, pain and anger slip away, and what was left was just me. I crossed the finish line exhausted and calm, and met up with E, who was waiting for me.
So, how did I do?

With an official time of 52:27 (16:53 pace), I ranked:
81 out of 107 participants
18 out of 42 walkers
5 out of 6 overall in the 25-29 division
38 out of 53 overall females
2 out of 3 females aged 25-29

Yup, I placed!

Every time I try to brush it off as an accomplishment, all I have to do is look at this moment and that medal and I realize how awesome I truly am. I never stopped or looked back, and no matter how challenging it felt sometimes, I kept on keeping on, and for that, I rock! I don’t always have to be the first or the best; by showing up and taking charge, I can keep being the best Carly that I can be.

“Life is a positive-sum game. Everyone from the gold medalist to the last finisher can rejoice in a personal victory.” – Unknown

So why didn’t I run?
Pretty soon after starting C25K, I realized that at least for right now, it’s not the right program for me. I’ll admit that it was really hard for me to come to the decision to put it on the back burner yet again, but I truly believe that had I kept pushing for it, I would’ve resented it. For me, the whole point of doing C25K was to have a new adventure, a new activity, and a reason to keep reaching for a goal, and it was just not doing that for me. I’m kind of jealous of everyone I admire who are having a blast with the program, and hope that one day, I’ll be back to follow in their footsteps.

P.S. I’m donating $0.10 $1.00 to The Epilepsy Foundation for the first 500 comments made on this post before June 10th, which is also my 27th birthday. This is a cause I believe so very strongly in, so go on and get cracking! Tweet, re-post and help make sure that I’m a little poorer. Every comment counts.

Link Love: Finals Edition

27 Apr

Between being thisclose to finals, getting back in the kitchen and work, this week’s turning out to be a bit hectic. I have some posts going up (soon!), which will get to the point on some matters, and answer some questions I’ve been getting, including the many asking what’s up with C25K. For now, here are some posts that have really impacted me and made me think. Also, check out my guest post on overcoming a family of dieters over at Mish’s awesome blog, Eating Journey.


Overcome Your Fear By Making Friends With Failure – No Meat Athlete

Being Gentle With Yourself, a guest post – Eating Journey

Becoming One Without Doubling In Size – Chasing the Now

Eat Dirty – The Fit Bride

I Took Another Intuitive Eating Step – Confessions of a (Recovering) Compulsive Eater

Five – FitHungryGurl

What If – Medicinal Marzipan

tomorrow is only…

24 Feb

…a day away!

It’s been a long day, and this was very-much needed. Tomorrow’s going to be better, and I’m learning to put on a happy face, slowly but surely. Like everything else, though, it’ll take time. Today it got to me a little more than I would’ve liked, hence the video diary.

In happier news…
awesome people giving away free stuff!!!

  • Check out Kristen is having a Newman’s Own Organics giveaway; check it (and her!) out at Change of Pace
  • Help cheer up Jocelyn (and her blog!) through her giveaway at Jocelyn Eats Fresh
  • It’s makeover time again at casa del Zesty – enter to win a facelift for your blog at
  • Josie’s asking what dirty foods you want to indulge in for the chance at a subscription to Clean Eating over at Yum Yucky