Saturday, June 27, 2015

What I am is what I am

I had my first "staff meeting" today as a Weight Loss Coach. I gained 2 clients this week and am thrilled with their progress so far (and also mine!).

My first assignment was to write a bio for the company's website. I am sharing it here as it gets to the core of who I am and why this all matters to me so very much. 
My name is Samantha Koellhoffer and I am a 41 year old wife and mom.  I am happily married to my best friend and we have the most amazing little girl. I am a freelance writer and work part time. When I am not writing, I am home with our daughter and learning to see the world through her eyes.

My weight has always been an issue for me. I tried every diet out there – many more than once. I would try every fad, get to my goal, and then slowly (or sometimes quickly!) gain the weight back. Each time I lost the weight, I felt amazing. Each time I gained it back, I felt worse than the time before. 

My weight used to define me.  

I heard of Mind, Body & Soul Fitness from a dear friend of mine and it’s easy to say this program changed my life.

In the past, I dieted to get thin. This time, I did it to get healthy. I want to be around for my family for the long haul and that meant some things had to change.

80 pounds and 48+ inches later, the world is open to me again. I have a freedom that I had lost for quite some time. I was holding myself back from doing so much before and I did not even know it. I was my own harshest critic and my own worst enemy.

Now is the time to share what I have learned. To help others discover their true selves. To take the control and the power back.  I define me. And now I want to help define you!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Confusion never stops, closing walls and ticking clocks...

So much of my life is related to time. Before I met Gary. After we got married. Before I got pregnant. After we lost Allie. Before Miranda came into our lives. After the judge declared her ours.

Now it's before I lost the weight and after I got the weight off.

It's hard not to look back and old pictures of myself and not cringe. How did I get that heavy? How did I lose that much control of who I was? 

The answer is simple. I have battled my weight my whole life. And I always will. While things like fertility treatments and grief certainly did not cause my weight issues, they did not help them, either.

There is a picture on our fridge of the first time that Miranda was placed into our arms at the hospital. She is so teeny tiny and Gary's eyes are red from so much emotion and I am just beaming. I am also very large. The other day, I thought to myself, "I should take that picture down and put up a better one." And then I got so mad at myself.

I am now the same person I was then. Miranda does not know from fat or thin. She points to all the pictures of me in all the sizes and squeals, "Mama!". To her, I am who I am.

I must come to terms with that, too. I am healthier now. I am more fit now. I can keep up with my daughter now and I feel worlds better about myself now. But who I was then was not so bad, either. I do not want to ever lose sight of that. not better and certainly not worse.

Last week I had the privilege of talking to a potential adoptive mother. The agency gave her my contact information and we set up a time to call. She was open and honest about their journey and I was, too. She had so many fears and concerns and I think I was able to really help her. I offered advice and suggestions that I feel were valuable. We talked about the many facets of adoption and the emotions and costs - both emotionally and on our bank accounts. And I told her that once she is placed with her child, all those fears will melt away. I concluded the call with an emailed picture of our family. I wanted her to see the joy we share. She said she would be in touch and I hope she is.

This week, I got my final measurements and pictures for my weight loss journey. I will have my own clients very soon. I am ready to share my knowledge and help others the way I was helped. I can't wait to begin.

Time marches on and we must march with it. I do not want to be left behind. But I also do not want to spend time agonizing about the past. My goal is to focus on the now - today, tomorrow and the next day. Not to be confused or angry by my choices in the past.

That picture will stay on our fridge until it falls down. And when it is replaced, it will be by one that celebrates a special family moment or a snippet of time that we want to be reminded of daily. It will not be a picture that is chosen solely because I look good in it. Then again, if I stay on this path that I am on and continue to make smart choices, all the pictures of me from now on should be good so maybe that new picture will be both!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

It's the hope of hopes, it's the love of loves

Last night, I had the change to see Bette Midler in concert. She is the ultimate performer and this was the 3rd time I have seen her live. It was an amazing experience and one I won't soon forget.

My dad loved Bette. It seems stereotypical to say a gay man loved Bette, but it's the truth. He also loved Cher and the opera and well, many things that were stereotypical for him to love! He took me to see her at Radio City Music Hall when I was in college and it is one of the fondest memories of us together. Cheering and signing (he usually belting out the wrong words and not giving a damn) and us bonding over the love of a live performance. It was fabulous.

Last night, I went to the show with one of my dearest friends. My friend since high school that my dad simply adored. The feeling was mutual. Gary bought the tickets for us and said to go enjoy. And enjoy we did.

My dad was with us last night. From the first martini to the third encore, he was there.

The Divine Miss M spoke a lot through her show. That is one of the things I like about her performances. Much of what she said resonated with me. But one thing in particular stuck with me. Songs are organic and change they way we change. A song that once meant one thing can start to mean another at a different stage in your life. A song about heartache could once have been for a long lost love and is now about the loss of a love.

"Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sun's love
In the spring becomes the rose"

I have always loved that song. Now it reminds me of the person that Miranda will one day grow up to be. I am not sure why, but it does.

"Did you ever know that you're my hero?
You're everything I wish I could be
I could fly higher than an eagle
For you are the wind beneath my wings

Those lyrics remind me of Allie. She is the gentle force that is with us day in and day out and pushes us to be our best.

Now I know for sure that those lyrics meant something different the first time I heard them. And I know they meant something different when I heard them with my dad. I also know that last night, they meant something different once again. I guess that is what I love about music so much.

My eyes filled up a few times last night. There were tears for those I have loved and for those that I have lost. Mostly, though, the tears were little drops of memories that flooded my soul. My soul that is very much alive and remembering the spirit of those that are not.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

How long 'til my soul gets it right?

We spent the majority of this past weekend celebrating both of our daughters.

On Saturday, we drove out to the Lancaster area for the 5th Annual Brother's and Sister's Picnic. Hosted by the Sweet Pea Project, it is a free event held once a year to celebrate all the members of your family. It was the first year we were able to attend and we were all looking forward to it. Turns out we have every right to be excited! We were greeted warmly with matching shirts and on the back, in big bold letters, read "Allie".  There was face painting and a bounce house and free food and water ice and a playground and balloon animals and more. But more importantly, there were a group of people in matching green shirts who knew what it was like to walk in our shoes. We met up with some old friends, laughed, took lots of photos and vowed to come back again. I think an event like that will help us explain to Miranda who Allie is and who she was and it will be great for her know that she is not alone.

On Sunday, we went to the Adoptions from the Heart Annual Picnic. We have been attending this picnic since 2013 so we knew what to expect. We met up with our friends and packed a lunch and let the kids roam around and be free. There were all sorts of activities and live music and more importantly, a park full of people who knew what it was like to navigate the waters of open adoption. I know an event like this will help us to explain to Miranda why we chose adoption and it will be great for her to know she is not alone.

It was an emotional weekend. No matter how much we do it, it's still hard to celebrate Allie when she is not here to celebrate with us. For the most part, we cling to the happy memories, but in that park, surrounded by so many other families who were anxiously waiting to bring home a baby that never came home, well, it was hard not to get emotional. To see the names of all the babies on the backs of the sea of green shirts was very bittersweet. Bitter in that they are just names that we have to hold on to and sweet that we get the chance to celebrate them at all.

Growing our family through adoption was probably the best decision Gary and I made since deciding to go on that first date back in 2008. Once we made the decision, it was almost easy. We found out on Sunday that not all the people from our group have been placed yet. Turns out what was "easy" for us has not been the same for them.

I have to be gentle with my heart and my soul on weekends like this past one. I need to let me heart feel the emotions that ebb and flow through it. I need to make sure I get it right.

I think, for the first time, I am getting it right. That feels really good. To know that I am taking care of myself and my family and making the right choices for us all.

I am nearing the end of my weight loss journey. With 72 pounds gone, I want to lose a few more and then focus on keeping that weight off. I need to introduce foods back into my diet and learn how to eat without overeating. My training as a Weight Loss Coach is underway and although it might be too soon to say, I think I am really going to be good at this role. It's just another thing I need to take care of my soul. Who better to help others than someone who knows the struggle and the heartache and the pain of trying to find her true self? 

It feels so good to feel this good.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Just Give Me A Reason

There are many times in my life when I have looked back and wondered "why". I am not one of those people that believes that everything happens for a reason. But I am one of those people that have wondered why some people suffer so while others do not seem to suffer at all.

I have learned after years and years of observation, that what I see on the outside is not the full picture. People let you see what they want you to see. I am the same way, of course. I show my soul in my writing, but almost always with a side of sass or humor that makes it easier to read. I post pretty pictures and delete the not-so-pretty ones. 

After Allie died, I found that my story and my journey really helped others. At first, I was helping other parents who also experienced stillbirth. Then I was helping other parents who had to bury a child. Then I was helping couples that were experiencing infertility. Then I was aiding to spread awareness of adoption. Though it all, sharing a piece of me and my journey is what really seemed to resonate with people and so, here I go again.

My latest mission has been to get myself back to a weight that is comfortable for me. I do not need to get a belly button ring or wear a half shirt (you are welcome), but I want to be able to feel good, keep up with my daughter, be around for my family, and feel positive about myself again.

That was the piece that was missing. The pride.

I was able to do much in my life while not feeling good about myself, but man, does it feel good to do it all and feel good, too.

A diet is not just about the food choices we make. Yes, I weigh my proteins on a food scale. Yes, I journal all the food I eat in a day. Yes, I exercise to accelerate the process.  Yes, I rely on my food coach a lot. However, at least once a day, I find myself being introspective and trying to find out WHY I want to make the poor choices that lead me to immediate gratification and then long term dissatisfaction.

I can blame whomever I want to blame - my parents, society, grief, the media - but the fact of the matter is, I am the one making the choices of what to put into my body and I am the one that needs to be held accountable. I need to know if I am eating because I am bored, nervous, anxious, excited, and so on. And I have been training myself these past 21 weeks to reach for something else when those emotions arise. Water, a walk, a book, work...there are plenty of others things to do besides stand in front of the fridge.

I do not have this weight thing beat. I am not sure I ever will. But I have a level of awareness now about myself that I did not have before. And I have a crazy amount of pride.

I hope those two elements, combined with my training and life experiences, will help me be a good weight loss coach for others. And above all, I hope they allow me to stop fighting this battle with myself and let me just enjoy this journey that I am on. 

There is not just one reason why I struggle with my weight. There are, however, many reasons to stop struggling. One of the main ones is this little girl who calls me mama. I will do everything in my power to be healthy and alive and around for her. I owe it to us both.

Adoption In My Heart

Today was the Adoptions From The Heart Annual Picnic . We love this event. It is close to our house, it is early enough in the summer that i...