Being Up for a Challenge

This will probably be the hardest post I have ever written.  I’ve recently embarked on something that I have never done before.  I mean, for me, this is a BIG DEAL!  For those of you that know me, this might seem strange…for those who have visited here before, you might think that I am completely out in left field.  Stick with me though…here’s my story…

I have been on the wildest journey.  It didn’t start out that way.  From when I was very little, I knew I wanted to be a teacher.  I love kids and I wanted to make a difference.  This feeling was consistent for me throughout my childhood, so when I started college, I knew very well what I wanted to study.  I graduated with a BA in English and Certification in Elementary Ed.  I started teaching and worked while I got my MS in Reading K-12.

It may be obvious, but I no longer teach…not in the “traditional” sense anyway.  The game changer for me, as is with many women, a baby.  My oldest was born in 1997 and I knew even before she was born that I wanted to be home with her.  I was fortunate in that I could have easily done nothing other than raise her and take care of my home.  To say that I was filled with bliss would be an understatement.  However, after a short time, I found that I was just sad and lonely.  So, I decided that I needed a hobby…that hobby was rubber stamping.  I got pretty good at it, too and before long, I was teaching craft classes at my local craft store.  The best of both worlds…right?  I was home with my daughter and taught nights and weekends.

Fast forward…a few years…a few more crafty skills…and I was officially a professional craft designer who worked directly with craft manufacturers and was an active member of the Craft and Hobby Association.  While I enjoyed working from home and crafting all the time, I knew that work-for-hire did not bring consistent income.  Any creative gets this….it’s feast or famine.  Right?

At this time in my life, I was struggling internally with the fact that I was not self-sufficient.  All my life someone had taken care of me.  For whatever the reason, that was no longer ok in my eyes.  Maybe it was hormones.  Or maybe it was the fact that I had daughters to whom I was not only a mother, but a role model.  I definitely didn’t want them thinking that they couldn’t take care of themselves financially.

Fast forward again…and here we are at 2013.  I have a thriving business where I offer both art and business services for the craft and hobby industry.  Obviously…if you’ve spent any time on my blog or networks…social media has become a staple for me.  I love it because I believe in the power of community.  Of course, I am still very focused on teaching, be it a craft technique or how to leverage social media for your business.  At my core and what drives me is helping others.

In addition to this, I co-Publish Bella Crafts Quarterly™, a free digital craft magazine with my colleagues, Ann Butler, Carol Heppner and Lisa Rojas.  What I thought would be a slow build has been anything but…for which I am grateful!!  So, I actively work two full time jobs.  I maintain two websites…run social media for two businesses…art projects…deadlines…team meetings…blog hops, etc etc.  Of course, I have my family to take care of and a household to run as well.  I am no stranger to 20 hour days.  I’m not complaining either.  I thrive on this!

As you can imagine…there have been personal consequences to running myself ragged.  The big one for me is weight.  I am not obese, but I am definitely over-weight.  It’s not from over-eating either.  Rather, my issue comes from the fact that I practically starve myself.  You’d think I’d be a twig!  LOL  A typical day for me starts with a cup of coffee as I go through my morning routine at home.  I’ve never been a big breakfast eater, so I skip it most days.  Then, I head down here to my office/studio and I get so focused on what I have to get done that I forget about lunch and often times I don’t even drink water, so I get dehydrated.  By 3 or 4 I don’t feel very well, which is no wonder.  Right?  There have been many days…too many to count, that all I have is dinner.  After dinner, I’m back to work.  The result of my behavior?  I have done nothing less than completely destroy my metabolism.  Honestly, it’s no wonder that my body holds onto and stores every calorie I feed it.

I hadn’t really thought about my weight, actually.  You see, about 12 years ago, I weighed 230 pounds and was a size 22!!  I’m no where near that today, but if I keep doing what I am doing, I’ll end up right back there.  What really did it for me was a photo shoot I had a few weeks ago.  I needed some new photos for my website, so I scheduled a session with a photographer friend of mine.  When I saw the shots, to say I was upset would be putting it mildly.  Embarrassed is a good word, too.  I was not happy with what I was looking at….me…way too big.

Being Up for a Challenge | @theresacifali

Theresa Cifali – July, 2013

Now, I have never dieted in my life and I certainly am not looking to do so now.  For me the key is LIFESTYLE.  I will not deny it…I have a very hectic lifestyle.  I have no desire to change that.  Why would I?  It’s who I am and I’m not unhappy!  What I am looking to do is enhance my lifestyle…and I am doing so via ViSalus…the creators of the Body by Vi 90-Day Challenge.

Whoaaaaaa, Theresa!  What?

First of all, if you want to see what challenge I am referring to, you can check out this VIDEO.  It’s explains the Challenge.

What I am looking to do is not only drop 20 pounds, but also get my metabolism back on track…which requires me to feed my body.  As I have already stated…I’m super busy and I need something that is going to fit into my current lifestyle. ViSalus manufactures a shake mix and other healthy nutritional products.  It tastes good and, while I am still not a breakfast person, I don’t mind mixing up a shake and taking it with me.  :)

No…I am not starving myself!  I am having a shake for breakfast and lunch, eating healthy snacks in between and I have a normal dinner.

Why am I doing this?  I need help!  I am not too proud to ask for it either.  I’m tired of being tired…and I’m tired of abusing my own body the way I have been for so long.  So, I’ve jumped in and am raring to go.  I also like this product AND I like that this company is on a mission to wipe out childhood obesity.

Even more out there…I am doing this PUBLICLY.  That’s right!  As I have said, I believe in the power of community.  I am part of an amazing community.  So, by announcing this and being completely transparent…I am not accountable not only to myself, but to you!  I need your help!  Are you with me?

I also know that there are people out there that are in the same situation as me.  If I can inspire someone else to take control and put stock in themselves….I’m doing it!

Keep an eye out on my social networks…I’ll be sharing my progress.  Wish me luck!

I’d love to know YOUR story.  Share in the comments…I read every one…and I do answer!

65 Responses to Being Up for a Challenge

  1. Anna says:

    My story is similar. I’m going to check out this new company in a little while. Thank you for sharing! I can’t wait to see your trials and tribulations on this.

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Anna. It means a lot to me that you took the time, especially since this post is so personal for me. I’m happy to share…and let me know how I can help you!

  2. Beth says:

    I wish you the best of luck. You are so awesome for putting this out there. If I wasn’t 4.5 months pregnant I would join the challenge with you!
    Beth recently posted..Fun Project Life AppsMy Profile

  3. Jonathan says:

    What an inspiration you are. Thank you for sharing your experiences. You give so much to all of us, and we are here for you.

    • Thank you, Jonathan. It is always my intention to help and inspire….and if I can help someone take the plunge…and then do it better than I did. That’d be awesome in my book!

  4. You go, Theresa! I’ve always thought you were gorgeous, though. I’m going to check this out. I’d love to drop about 20 lbs. and I do the same thing you do: No breakfast except for a couple of big cups of coffee, half a sandwich for lunch (usually around 4 p.m.) then a normal dinner, if you can call eating at 9 p.m normal. Wishing you the best!

  5. MARIA SOTO says:

    Hi Teresa,

    I read your story and I can relate, is like if I wrote my story, I was never heavy at all, until I had my youngest who is now about to turn 17 this Sunday. After his birth I was so depressed, was married and very unhappy and let myself go, I was a single mom before I got married and after getting married and having two kids I was very sad and therefore went from 125 to 200, have gone up and down for the past 16 years. of which 13 years I’ve been a single parent, working non -stop and like you said, not eating much thinking why on earth have I gained so much weight if I barely eat anything. Well back in 2009 I found out I had type 2 diabetes because of my weight, have tried and have lost and have gained, I have learned why lack of eating and drinking water makes your body hold on to all the calories. I too will be doing what you started, I will follow you for inspiration, because is not easy doing this alone. My kids and family are my biggest supporters and last night I had a moment of clarity, I have to work hard at getting healthy for myself and my kids. Thanks for this! I see myself, I read this and it was like I was talking to myself, I want to stop feeling tired and feeling sick all the time, I will look at the product you are referring to, but in the mean time I will go back to using Shaklee, it helped me before, so I know how great it works, I can’t wait to see your progress, once again, thank you this post felt like we were having a personal conversation, I can relate to how you feel 200% – I wish you TOTAL success.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story with me, Maria. I would love it if you would take a serious look at the Body by Vi Challenge. In addition to all of my wonderful online friends, we have built a team and community that will directly support all of us. I’m loving this so far and so honored that you and I have shared this bond. You’re amazing. Let’s get healthy together!

      • MARIA SOTO says:

        I will look into it, right now since I have the shakes from Shaklee, I will finish these first, but I’m about to check out the Boby by Vi challenge, I’ve come to realize that it’s better when you are not alone in this type of situation. Yes let’s get healthy together, I will be following your progress for it will motivate me to stick with it this time.

  6. My doctor friend just started the 90-day challenge. He’s lost 10 pounds in two weeks!

    Good luck with your journey… I know you can do it.
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  7. Mike O'Hagan says:

    Theresa you are a STAR! Always knew you were special and always thought you beautiful; but I understand where you are and the challenge ahead – because it sure is and should not be underestimated. If I was 5600 miles nearer I’d drive over and give you a hug and leave you smiling. The hardest part will be managing your emotions as you alter your state, as your body adjusts to the new you. The only advice I can give is drink some sparkling water everyday :)

    My breakfast consists of a cocktail of prescription medication with orange juice, then a cup of tea, then mid-morning I’m able to eat, toast or cereal. Good luck! (You don’t need it but if you do its wished for you).
    Mike O’Hagan recently posted..Big Day :) and other stuff . . .My Profile

  8. I am In the same boat. Would love to join you in this challenge!!!

  9. Keri Sallee says:

    I’m so proud of you sweetie! As someone who was the “round” kid, never the skinny teenager and had 3 kids in 6 1/2 years, I can def sympathize with looking at a picture and wonder who the heck that was…bc it couldn’t be me. The realization that change is needed an be hard, but down the road you WILL be proud of yourself as you reach those weight lose goals and be an even bigger she-ro to your girls and all those around you. Since I had my last child, I’ve gone from a size 16 to a 4, dropping almost 40 lbs, and I have never been more PROUD of myself and I feel like I am setting an great example of a healthy lifestyle for my kiddos. If I can do it…anyone can do it! (Sorry…this ended up longer than planned!)

    • Thanks so much, Keri! YOU are an inspiration. That is a huge accomplishment. I was never really skinny either. I have curves and I’m not afraid to use ‘em! lol I’m looking forward to getting into a smaller dress size, that’s for sure.

  10. Carmen Whitehead says:

    Good for you Theresa for taking the time to take care of yourself. As moms we’re often the last ones we take care of. I’m so looking forward to following your progress. Good luck girl!

    • Thanks Carmen. I knew if I didn’t share this story, I was risking not following through for myself. I want my girls to see that a little determination goes a long way. Appreciate you!

  11. Katherine says:

    You are such an inspiration Theresa!! I wish you the best of luck on your journey but for the record, I think you are incredibly beautiful just the way you are!

  12. Hi Theresa, thanks for posting your story! Our personal body image is so important to us, particularly as women. Our health is so connected to that as well.
    Good for you to take the steps to improve your health! As I get older every year, (can’t seem to make that stop) I am more focused on how I eat, what I eat and how much daily activity and exercise I have.
    That’s also why I use the supplements from It Works that I sell on my website! I love these products.
    My weight was at a stand still….I was only eating 1000 calories a day and if I went over, I would instantly gain. I have found that boosting my metabolism with Greens, using Thermofit and adding extra protein, ProFit, I have been able to take better control of ME! I feel very healty and increased energy!!
    Think about adding more protein to your diet. My dietician told me that I didnt eat enough protein. Be sure you are drinking plenty of water daily, and try to get some type of exercise or activity 5 times a week(about 30 min). This is what helps me to keep my weight in check.
    Good luck! Keep us posted!!!

    • I know that you totally get this, Janine. I’m so glad that you have found something that works for you…and that you are passionate about. Thanks for all of the great advice, too.

  13. Sue Eldred says:

    Go for it. I’m sure you’ll be able to accomplish anything you put your mind too.

  14. Penny Kitzmiller says:

    Reading your story has me in tears….I am the same way as you are as to your eating habits. You are lucky to be able to get the help you need. I wish you all the luck and power in the world. I am 48 and . disabled and only get SSI and can’t afford any program right now. I am not here to tell you a sad bad story but nobody knows what I have been through already in my life. I am a widow from the age of 23 because of a suicide husband that left me 4 months pregnant. She is 24 now and doing great. I closed my life for so many years and I opened the door about 12 years ago. He and I never married but loved each other dearly. Well now he has about 2 wks to live because of cancer. When does the pain ever end?? I had hopes and dreams just like you. Stayed home and raised my daughter and crafted and sewed all the time. Now I have lost all of my joy and all my hope. Please pray that a door will open for me that I can think better of myself. I don’t want to gain anymore weight. I know that’s not suppost to make you but I know if I could loose some weight I would feel better and would stop this depression of mine. Thank you for listening to me. Sorry if I sound so gabber!!

  15. Nicely done, Theresa. Great work! Congratulations and the best of luck.
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  16. Lisa Jimenez says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. You are a true inspiration. I wish you luck on your new journey. My best friend and I always tell each other this saying when we need it “You are loved, confident, strong & beautiful”, now it goes to you.
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  17. Laura Kelly says:

    You go girl! You can totally do this. Thank you for sharing your heart and soul and letting us all be a part of your journey. Now go eat something and rock these 90 days!

  18. Eileen Hull says:

    Theresa- good for you! I hear ya. It’s hard to keep life in balance and sometimes you just need to get into new habits. I know you will do great. Wishing you well and will be waiting to get inspired by your success. No pressure :-)

  19. Theresa, you are very beautiful, but I feel your pain. I have been on a diet the last two months and have lost 27 pounds. I want to continue to drop another 20 -25 pounds. I am getting help to do this and I feel so much better. I think so many women don’t eat properly, we are so busy and don’t take the time to look after ourselves. I wish you all the best, and I know you will be successful.

  20. Cindy says:

    Good on you Theresa…. I should also be looking at someway of getting fit and healthy… should look for something like this in Australia…

  21. Sue Graber says:

    Very proud of you for sharing your story Theresa and your desire to help so many others. You are absolutely right about being in a “community” that supports & encourages you. I’m cheering you on all the way and love your heart for wanting to help others. You can do this!!!

  22. Julie says:

    Teresa, I have followed the same path as you have. I didn’t like my weight gain but somehow never committed myself to eating healthier. I made the decision about six weeks ago and have lost 16 pounds!

    I am eating healthy and don’t consider it a diet but a lifestyle change. I start my morning with a shake as well: Isagenix. I eat small amounts throughout the day, and I feel it has changed my metabolism. My husband and daughter are healthy eaters, so it helps to have everyone on board. They reached their ideal weights some time ago and just maintain it. We eat healthy foods, and I definitely eat smaller portions now.

    I have a long way to go to my goal, but I know I will reach it now. It helps to have a chart where I mark my weight every morning. I’m a visual person, and it helps me see what I’ve accomplished. It also keeps me on track! I give myself a silver star for every 5 pounds, and a gold one for every ten.

    I’m starting my new job as a Liberal Arts professor in a few weeks, and I will be able to get into some of my nicer clothes. I have smaller clothes waiting for me, and I am so excited about wearing them again. (I like classic styles, so they aren’t out of style yet!)



    • Julie…thank you so much for your kind words and for sharing your personal story. I love the reward system you are giving yourself. Kudos to you for putting yourself first. I know that for a personally selfish reason I want you healthy so you are around a long time!

      Best wishes with your new job….I’m sending positive energy right back at you!

  23. Congratulations on making the decision. Just remember to eat food (real food not packaged garbage) and lots of it. Exercise and drink water. The body will heal itself if it’s fed properly. It’s a lifestyle change and it starts with the choices we make. It doesn’t end in 90 days either. You can do it.
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  24. Kim Garst says:

    It’s hard to publicly admit that it’s time to do something about our weight. I am in the same boat! Started the 90 Day Challenge two days ago with the goal of losing 30 pounds. I am down 2.8 in two days! Super excited to be on this journey with you, Theresa!
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    • Tell me about it, Kim. I’m excited though….I’m looking forward to the added benefits like having more energy and a metabolism that works! Glad to be doing this with you also.

  25. Holly Jean says:

    Theresa, I am right there with you! I just purchased the FIT KIT to help me get my nutrition back on track while I begin a new workout regimen! I can’t wait to support each other in this journey!

  26. Beth Blacker says:

    I am not sure there is anything for me to say that hasn’t been said already by those who posted comments earlier other than stay strong and carry on! It’s not a matter of whether you can do it, I truly believe you will do it!
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  27. Madeline Faiella says:

    Girl, you are a rock star!!! You can do this…you have it all. WOOT WOOT..

  28. Love your story Theresa. Thank you for sharing that. So glad that you’ve made the decision toward a healthier lifestyle. Will be there every step of the way to offer support. You go girl!

  29. Nora says:

    Hey Theresa,
    Thanks for sharing your story. I always think of you as my “little sis” so it was great reading about your life and what you’ve been up to. I’ve been overweight my whole life. When we were in high school, you probably didn’t see it since I was pretty active (tennis, etc.). My highest weight was 241 two years ago. I joined Weight Watchers in February 2011 for about the eighth or ninth time. This time I joined with the mindset that “this is not a diet; this is a lifestyle change.” I’ve lost 70 lbs, and I have about 20 to go. I started running about a year ago. I’ve run some 5Ks and a 10K. I’m now training for my first half-marathon in November. I’m hoping that the last 20 during training. I can’t wait to read about your progress. Love ya girl.

    • Nora…thank you so much for sharing. It’s just been way too long since I’ve seen you. I’m glad that you are doing so well and congrats on your major lifestyle change. That’s AH-MAZING! I hope you shed that last 20lbs quickly and keep me posted!

  30. nneka says:

    good luck with everything Theresa, you are determined and would always achieve whatever you set out to achieve and like Katherine said in her post, you are beautiful just the way you are. :-)
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  31. Good for you Theresa. It’s not how skinny or fat one is, it’s how healthy you are! It’s not only weight, it’s the whole package. I’m so glad you are doing what you feel is best for you. Looking forward to hearing about your progress.
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  32. Tammy Santana says:

    I heard about you from my friend Laura Bray! I am in exactly the same boat as you. I spend all day in my studio working on my Etsy stores and launching my new blog. Although it’s rewarding to have a successful business, it has wreaked havoc on my body. I go without eating all day surviving on caffeine and then usually pick up fast food on my way back home from one of my daughter’s daily after school sports activities. I’m thinking maybe this might be the plan for me because it sounds like something I could follow without having to think about it! I am going to look into it for sure!

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