Wait, what weight? Oh, that weight. Just you wait and see!

Sometimes, I felt too tired to even make it in the house without a nap and would nap in the car for before going inside. After dinner, I would shower and go straight to bed. I was super happy with my life, but my body felt miserable.

Better Together

Faith’s Thoughts:

Terry and I married in March of 2017.  On that day, I felt beautiful and regal. I wasn’t self-conscience of my weight or my looks. My clothes were tight and uncomfortable during my honeymoon, but the food was good.  So, I just loosened a button and ordered dessert. I remember telling my sister Hope how much weight I had gained in a short period of time, she said jokingly, “Oh that’s just ‘happy weight’.”  I was happy, but the weight wasn’t making me happy. The weight was making me tired. I have always been a fan of a naps, but naps were becoming a necessity to get through a work day. I would eat my lunch at my desk in between customers so that I could take a full hour nap in the car during my lunch break. I would wake up tired after 8 hours of sleep. I would come home from work and take a nap before dinner. Sometimes, I felt too tired to even make it in the house without a nap and would nap in the car for before going inside. After dinner, I would shower and go straight to bed. I was super happy with my life, but my body felt miserable.

I knew that I needed to make some lifestyle changes, but I also knew it would be difficult for me to change my behavior.  I felt so sluggish that the thought of exercise overwhelmed me. My strategy would be to lose 30 pounds with healthy eating, then start exercising after I lost those initial pounds. I had lost weight previously through the Atkins Diet and I wanted to go back to that because I knew I could lose a significant amount of weight with or without exercise. Terry was opposed to Atkins and suggested a more balanced approach to eating. I had tried Weight Watchers multiple times in the past and I wasn’t successful because I wasn’t accurately tracking my food and I wasn’t fully committed to changing my eating habits. So, when I decided that I would join Weight Watchers this time, I didn’t want to tell anyone. I felt so out of control with my eating that I feared that I would fail again. That strategy didn’t work very long because Terry does the cooking at home. It just made more sense to tell him.

Terry has always been supportive and loving concerning my weight. He has never given me a reason to feel self-conscious about my size. When I told Terry my plans to lose weight, he was just as supportive as I had expected. He immediately started searching Weight Watchers recipes so that dinner would be points friendly. Terry even downloaded the WW app to his cell phone so that he could see how many points I had left after lunch. The support didn’t stop with eating. Terry would be my walking partner many nights. Because of his support for me, Terry also lost weight, albeit at a slower pace.

One of my biggest struggles was eating out. In my childhood, eating out was only for celebrations. Celebrations usually mean over-indulgence. Terry and I were eating out multiple times a week. I couldn’t afford to over-indulge every time we ate out. When I shared with Terry that eating out was a problem for me, we cut back (which helped both our pockets and our waist lines). When we did eat out, Terry would let me choose the restaurant, which I would chose by checking the WW app first. At first, I thought his support would be intimidating, but it became motiving. Even though he was not an official Weight Watcher, he’d let me discuss with him the things I learned in my meetings and when I had a weekly weigh in, he’d ask how I did. If I told him I lost, he’d respond “I’m so proud of you”. If I had gained, he’d say, “It’s just water weight”. After a few weeks of not losing, I’d be frustrated and say, “don’t say it’s just water weight.” To that he would respond, “It’s because you are gaining muscle.” LOL.

To date, I’ve lost 60 pounds on WW with another 40 to go. The weight isn’t coming off as fast as I would prefer, but I’m focusing more on health. I’m measuring my success by my energy level, self-discipline, and activity. I figure that no matter what happens on the scale, if I eat for fuel, refuse to over-eat and move my body, then results will follow that winning formula. For the first year and a half, I went to weekly meetings which have been a tremendous help. I leaned so much from other members and the weekly topics. I learned about some of my unhealthily eating triggers and how to combat them. I learned how to maximize my water intake and how to find ways to incorporate activity into a busy schedule. I recently switched to a fully online plan instead of weekly meetings which made me a little nervous. I asked Terry if he would join online too so that I could have a “meeting” at home. Weight Watchers has a saying that we’re better together which certainly is the case for us. I’m glad to have a partner at home on this journey. Many ladies talk about not having the support at home and I couldn’t imagine how hard that would be to have your partner discourage and belittle you instead of encouraging you and blaming the weight gain on the water 😊. We are certainly better together.

-Faith

The Weighing Game

Terry’s Thoughts (T2):

When I was a kid, I was not what you would consider “thin” by any stretch of the imagination.  Every summer, the Sears catalog would arrive in June and my mother would allow me to choose a few items out of the “husky” section while she chose the rest of my clothes.  We would go to the store in Augusta and place the order.  In 4-6 weeks, we would get a card in the mail stating that my order had arrived at the store and we could come pick it up.  As we would walk to the order by mail section of the store, I would look at all the clothes that were there in the store and try to see if they added a “husky” section so I could be like the rest of the kids.  For years, this was not the case and it would be years (high school) before I could go into a store (thank you JB White for Men) and purchase clothes off the rack.

When I got to college, I started working out with my friends and started to get more muscular and bigger.  I was lifting weights continuously and was getting more and more fit.  Although I didn’t have a washboard stomach, I could look down and see my feet without it getting in the way.  I was fit and in shape.  Yet, over the years as I discontinued working out, the girth that I had gained continued as I started to trade lifting weights to lifting my fork.

One of the advantages of being well versed in cooking and not being dependent upon anyone to prepare my food, I could cook and eat whatever I had the taste for.  The only limits that I had were the time of the year that certain foods were available and what was in my bank account.  This was my Achilles heel: I was my own worse enemy as I could really cook and eat what I wanted.  At my largest, I was 298 lbs. and I was walking several miles every day at work.

One of the things during my courtship with Faith was that everyone in her family would say the same thing, “I hope you like lasagna.”  My response would always be the same, “I do, but I also know how to cook and will be doing most of the cooking.  Do I look like I missed a meal?”  Yet, something bothered me when one day Faith said that she was going on the Adkins diet.  I had done some research about the long-term success of the diet and was not impressed with what I found.  Another thing that I recognized was that what she was used to eating was not balanced and not beneficial to long term healthy living.  I had started losing weight by going back to basics: balanced eating along with portion control.  Yet, I had to convince Faith that my philosophy concerning weight loss was better for her long-term health than Adkins.

Faith had previously had success with Adkins before, but I didn’t feel that it was a sustainable lifestyle for healthy living long term.  So, I began to do the research and began to prepare to make my case to my bride that she shouldn’t do Adkins just to lose weight, rather we would make a lifestyle change together and lose the extra weight.  To my pleasant surprise, she agreed to my plan, but she had a twist: she wanted to do Weight Watchers.  Ugh!  That’s what I grew up watching people I knew go on!  It was my kryptonite and bane of my existence.  Since I had convinced Faith that balanced eating was the best method for us long term, I listened to her make the pitch to me about joining her.  I said I would support her and cook anything that she needed to be successful, but I was NOT going to meetings.

So, I combined my philosophy with the knowledge that she gained from her meetings and we added exercise to the whole thing.  Thus, the Bryant weight war had begun.  In the beginning, it was crazy purchasing things that would help make this war successful for both of us.  Even though I was not “officially” on the program, I was by proxy due to the fact that I had to cook everything that would be compliant with her plan and still learn the lessons to make sure that she could eat what I prepared and not have any setbacks.  Over the next few weeks, I began to notice that there was a little less of me and a little less than Faith than it was before.  A few weeks later, my health insurance company introduced a “diabetes prevention program” (read: weight loss program) that supported the ideas of portion control, exercise and many of the things that I learned through Faith in her groups.  So, another program and front opened up to help us with our goal to be better and healthier people.  Yet, there was something else that would help motivate me to keep losing weight along with my bride: my grandson, Keylan.

Those who have younger children know that they can be a bundle of energy and require a bundle of energy to keep up with.  As we continued to lose weight, we recognized that our energy level was increasing daily and weekly and I noticed that I wasn’t getting worn out when playing with him.  I had always been told that a child can change how a person looks a life and Keylan helped me refocus myself on ensuring that Faith and I would be there for him in later in life as well.

As Faith continued to move forward with her path, I slowed down and didn’t stay structured as I was in the beginning.  Yet, I didn’t become a barrier to Faith and continued to support her.  She continued to lose and lose.  Even when it didn’t show on the scale, it was showing in the clothes that we both wore.  Eventually, I would “get back on the horse” and recover the desire to get to my desired goal.

So, a few weeks ago, Faith asked me to join her as she was going to stop going to the meetings but wanted a partner that would help her remain accountable.  So, with the meetings no longer in play and having supported my queen on her journey, I joined her officially to get to my ultimate goal: get back to my weight in 1990 (don’t ask, you’ll find out when I get there.)  This was the year that I was (in my opinion) at the peak of my physical conditioning and weight.  Thus the “weighing games” have begun and in a few short months, we are both going to have a very intriguing reveal.

In closing, the one thing that we both recognized during our journey is not to base our success on what others may think or feel, rather how we feel about ourselves.  We also recognized that our desire to be more fit has improved our total quality of life and has given us the confidence to do things that we may not have done before.  This includes our blog.  So, we continue to look at ourselves and say, “what can I do to make myself a better person so that I can help more people.”  Losing weight is just one step in the process of fulfilling our calling and we hope others will see that being healthier is just part of a bigger process in fulfilling your calling in life.

-T

The Education of Faith B

One of the things that bothered me was that Faith would say from time to time “I want to finish my degree, but….”  I got tired of hearing her say those words, but I knew that she needed a little nudge to get started again. 

The Nagging of A. Terry Bryant

Faith’s Thoughts:

When I graduated high school in 1997, I did not want to go to college. In my parents’ generation, high school completion was enough to have a successful career. I felt like if I wasn’t aspiring to become a lawyer, doctor or engineer, college was unnecessary. I figured I would get a job, work hard, then move up in the company.  After graduation, I was hired at a staffing agency as a front desk person. I liked my job. I worked hard and learned as much as I could.  When I would apply to move up in the company, I kept reaching a ceiling.  I was told I couldn’t get promoted because I didn’t have a bachelor’s degree. That wouldn’t have been so bad, but then I was told that I had reached a ceiling in my pay as well.  What that meant to me was no matter how hard I worked and how much I learned, I would be stuck at the same pay for rest of my career without a college degree.  That was the motivation I needed to “want” to go to college.  I was out of high school for 4 years by then and I was a divorced mother of 3 children.

Once I got back into a learning environment, I realized that I loved learning.  I enjoyed college way more than high school.  After a few semesters at Miami-Dade College and Broward College, I moved to Daytona Beach and enrolled into Daytona Beach Community College (now Daytona State College).  I found it easier to focus on school in Daytona Beach because the cost of living was lower and there were fewer distractions.  After 2 years in Volusia county, I completed my Associates of Art Degree and I immediately enrolled into a 4-year program.  After a few semesters, I had to stop going to school.  Work had become demanding.  My kids’ schedules were full, and I was not being a focused student.  Learning stopped being fun and my grades suffered. I decided to focus on my kids and work.  I kept a job throughout my time in school and I kept being denied promotions because I lacked a bachelor’s degree. To make ends meet, I always worked a second job.  3 kids and 2 jobs meant school was the last thing on my mind.  I set my focus on my kids graduating and going to college.

Davion graduated high school in 2012.  To my delight he went straight to college avoiding the path I took of starting a family young.  Nicholas graduated high school in 2016 and went straight to college as well.  Nick was blessed to be able to play college football which helped with much of his college cost.  When Nick left for college in 2016, that’s when I started thinking about going back to school to complete my bachelor’s degree. That’s also when I found out that I was no longer eligible for any financial aid, not even loans. So, completing my degree would require more than just a time investment, it would require an immediate financial investment.

When I started dating Terry, whenever we would talk about my desire to go back to school, he would always encourage me to do so. He didn’t just encourage me though, he nagged me. “When are you going to enroll in school” he would say often.  It was annoying.  I thought he was telling me that I wasn’t educated enough for him. But what I learned was if you tell Terry that you want to accomplish something, he will encourage (nag) you to do what you say you want to do (which makes him the perfect alarm clock).  I finally told him that I didn’t qualify for any financial aid and I couldn’t afford to pay for my classes as I was sending money to 2 kids in college. Terry’s response: “How much do you need for your classes?” I knew then that he fully supported me going back to school.  Not because he didn’t think I was good enough without a degree, but because he knew I was good enough and he wanted to support me.

I started working for Daytona State College in January 2018. Terry fully supported my career change. A part of my motivation to switch careers was the academic benefits of working for a college. I planned to resume taking classes in July after I had more time to learn my new role at work. But, a series of events made it advantageous for me to speed up my enrollment date 4 months sooner than planned. In March 2018, I enrolled in school after a 9-year hiatus.  I was nervous because my last few semesters (many years ago) were difficult. I felt like such a failure because I couldn’t focus on school at all.  I didn’t even properly withdraw from classes, I just stopped going.  I was so embarrassed while talking to the academic advisor. I didn’t want anyone to see my transcripts. It didn’t help that she was my co-worker; I had to work with her and she saw all those F’s on my transcripts.  After reviewing my transcripts and doing a degree audit, I found out that I was just 9 classes away from completing my bachelor’s degree.  I had spent 9 years out of school. I could have taken 1 class a year and been finished. But I couldn’t look back anymore, only forward. I had the support of my husband and my employer.  I couldn’t waste any more time with regret.  My plan was to take 1 class a semester.  I wanted to ease into it. I thought Terry would agree with one class a semester since we would have to take money out of our budget to pay for the class and the book.  But in typical Terry form, he “encouraged” me to take more than 1 class a semester.  I was actually upset and with Terry for suggesting I take more than 1 class at a time. I didn’t think I could handle it, I didn’t want to use our hard-earned money and fail again.  I was having anxiety about it.  Terry sat down with me and reminded me that I wasn’t a single mom of 3 kids anymore. I had the support of my husband and not just financial support.

I agreed to take a full course load and Terry followed through on his promise of support. He would wash the dishes and take care of the household chores so that I had time to study after work.  He even read my text book with me so that he could be my study partner.  The first semester back, I made the Dean’s list!  That gave me the confidence I need to keep going.  Every semester came with its own set of challenges, but we made it through them with great grades.  As it turns out, I never lost my love for learning!  It had just been buried by responsibilities of life.  This past December, I completed my final class of my undergraduate program, 16 years after starting it.  My degree came in the mail this month and Mr. Bryant framed it and put it next to his on the wall the same day. Now he’s nagging (encouraging) me to go to grad school.  Not because he doesn’t think I’m good enough with a bachelor’s degree, but because he knows I am good enough for grad school and he knows it’s what I want.

– Faith

The Education of Faith B

Terry’s Thoughts (T2):

In the months leading to our wedding, Faith and I talked about my upcoming graduation.  I had previously talked about travelling to Washington, DC to walk for my MBA. Yet, we decided not to go and would have a virtual graduation ceremony here at the house. One of the things that bothered me was that Faith would say from time to time “I want to finish my degree, but….”  I got tired of hearing her say those words, but I knew that she needed a little nudge to get started again.  I had just spent 5+ years completing both my Bachelors and Masters degrees.  I knew that sometimes people need a little “nudge” to get started.  With that in mind, I decided to “nudge” Faith into completing her Bachelors degree.

In the beginning, Faith wanted to start slow…really slow.  I knew that if she started working on her degree one course per semester, the length of time needed to complete it could potentially discourage her.  So, we sat down and charted how many courses she needed to finish her degree.  During this time, it became apparent that we (this was a partnership, so we were in this together) were going to need about 15 months to complete everything.  I encouraged her to speak to an academic advisor to make sure that our calculations were correct.  After she spoke with the advisor and set the plan in motion, I knew what I needed to do…become a coach/cheerleader.

Many people don’t realize that when someone they care about goes back to school to complete their journey after an extended period of time, they may need someone to help them stay focused on the task ahead.  I understood that as in my past, I had people who continued to encourage me while I worked. It would now be my turn to pay it forward with Faith.  When Faith first moved to Daytona, she came with the intention of completing her Bachelor’s degree, yet, with the duties and responsibilities of rearing three children, she was only able to reach the halfway point: an Associates degree.  I too only had an Associates degree prior to working on my next level and had an extended time between the completion of my Associates degree.  I knew the trials and temptations that would come as she got closer to completion of her degree.

With that in mind, we began the process of completing her degree.  Now, my goal as coach was to ensure that she remained on track with her assignments both daily and weekly.  My other task as a cheerleader was to keep her encouraged when those moments of frustration and aggravation that I knew would come up from time to time.  Especially those classes that required “group participation” (Ugh!)  The best part of having recently completed a similar journey, I could truly empathize with her during these moments and know what she needed to hear to keep motivated and dedicated to completing her task.

I knew that the kids would be behind her, especially Davion, who was in the final leg of completing his degree.  She was determined to be completed before Princess graduated from high school.  This meant that she would have to go all out and remain focused on the prize: completion of her journey that started over 14 years earlier.  The difference between the start of her journey and as she was heading into the second half of the journey was simple: she now had a helpmate that would be there to help her stay focused and encouraged until completion.  I’m not that important to the process, but I knew that my encouragement and coaching would tap right into her love language: words of affirmation.  By encouraging her and affirming that she was doing the right thing in completing this task, she would know that I loved her and loved that she was going to complete the journey that she started so many years ago.

Once Faith started working on her classes, it became a battle of wills: will Faith want to choke someone for not participating in the group activities and pull out her retired “card” or will she remain the calm, professional Faith and help motivate the team to do what they were supposed to do.  In the classes that required group participation, she did a marvelous job keeping everyone engaged and working as a team.  I admired her dedication and focus to keeping the team together to “get that ‘A’”.  I know the few classes that I had requiring group participation, I did NOT have the patience that Faith did, but I did do what I needed to do to keep them engaged so that I wouldn’t get a failing grade.

When she reached her capstone class (the last class that was needed for her degree), she went to apply for graduation.  Upon applying for graduation, we found out a very nasty surprise: the academic advisor gave her incorrect information and she needed 3 more classes after the capstone class.  Faith was initially disappointed and let down, but I reminded her that the classes that she needed to complete were not upper level classes and that she had the necessary tools to complete them.  After getting over the initial disappointment, she buckled down to complete the task that was ahead of her: the capstone.  Once she got into the capstone class, she tackled it like she tackled any other challenge in her life; she took control and made it submit to her will.

Once she completed her capstone class, we were in the final stretch.  I realized that now would be the time that the coach in me would have to take the lead rather than the cheerleader.  She would need to take these classes just as serious as the upper-level classes and I needed to help her remain focused on the prize.  We have a saying, “short-term sacrifices for long term success.”  There were many times during the final months that we could have travelled or done something that would have taken her away from her studies, but in the end, it was more important for Faith to complete her classwork.  This was one of several “short-term sacrifices” that we made to ensure that the long-term goal was reached.

When she submitted the final coursework assignment, there was a sense of relief and reflection.  We were relieved that it was over, but we reflected on the entire journey.  She knew that she had the capability to complete the work, but the added support from me allowed her to focus on what needed to be done to get it completed.  One of the benefits of having a helpmate is the fact that when one needs support, the other one should be there to give them the support that they need to reach their dreams and goals.  The joy that I had watching Faith complete the task that she had started all those years ago filled me with pride in her accomplishment.  It was not that I had a major part in her completing her degree, but my joy was watching the woman that I love recognize that the dream and desire that she had was coming to fruition.  This joy and satisfaction that I had could not be contained, but this wasn’t my victory lap, it was Faith’s.

Once her final grade was posted and her transcript showed that her degree had been conferred, the waiting game began.  We had to wait for that little piece of paper to arrive in the mail.  I had so many things that I wanted to do to celebrate her accomplishing her goal, but I had to wait for it to arrive in the mail.  Not UPS or FedEx, so that it could be tracked, but plain old first-class US Postal Service mail.  It’s hard to plan a surprise when you don’t know when something is going to arrive or when it was shipped.  ARGH!!!!!  Eventually, it showed up in the mail.  My concern was that it was going to be shoved into the mailbox, bent, damaged and I would be bent with the mailman for damaging my bride’s prize.  Faith was out walking on a Saturday morning and when it arrived, the mailman brought it to the door with a smile.  When she got back, I told her “You’ve got mail” in my best imitation of AOL (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, YouTube it.)  She didn’t want to open it, but in my excitement, I told her that she NEEDED to open the envelope right then and there.  She eventually relented and then put it down on the end table.  She went back out to another obligation and then I went to work.  She didn’t know where her degree was going to be hung, but I already had a place set aside for it: right next to mine.

I measured the degree and off to the store to find a frame that was suitable for such an accomplishment.  I searched the store aisles to find one that would convey both the strength of the accomplishment and the journey that the degree represented.  Once I located the frame, I came home, placed the degree in the frame and then placed it where she could see it prior to being placed in its new home.  When she arrived, I could tell that she was pleased, but still didn’t know where it was going.  When I showed her its new home, a smile came over her face.  She contained her excitement but already she started thinking about her next goal: Master’s degree.  Guess I’m going to have to make room again.

-T