Are you ready for some motivation to become a better you? Sara Kaplan shares the inspirational story of how she lost 97 pounds, revolutionized her life, and learned to love herself along the way. Read on to see how Sara accomplished her stunning transformation!
I’ve been an incredible mom for one year. Unfortunately, my children are 7 ½ and 3 ½. There were years where I considered myself, at best, an ok to good mom. So, what happened this year to change my personal evaluation of my motherhood? What did I do to become an incredible mom?
Stopping the Cycle
Did I increase the focus on my children’s needs and interest? No, the answer is much more simple. For the last year, I decided to stop prioritizing everyone else in my life, and began taking care of myself. I actually decreased their extracurricular activities. I stopped trying to keep up with the Joneses. I pulled my daughter out of the after school care and summer camp, which I couldn’t afford. Did I unplug from my smart phone and online entertainment, and get all helicopter-ey and hands-on? Nope, quite the opposite, I started a blog called Public Display of Self Love, (Find me on Tumblr and Facebook!) and became way more connected to my phone and social media. Did I begin our days by making a big homemade breakfast, with organic local sustainable fresh squeezed juice? Not even close, I almost never make my children breakfast. Yes, they eat it, but not because I made it for them. I am typically not home at breakfast time, because I'm exercising.
My food and body issues go back to my own childhood, as well as self esteem and weight issues. I watched my mom battle these issues, and now my children have watched me. When I was choosing to take care of others and not take care of myself, I often felt resentful, angry, and unhappy. I couldn’t understand why I always felt victimized by others. I realized that the common denominator was me. By not showing up for me, I felt incomplete, and looked to others to do the work that only I could do. I was not getting what I needed from myself, and therefore projected that disappointment and frustration onto others. Since they could not provide me with my own self worth, these efforts proved futile, comical, and cyclical. It was time to stop the cycle!
Starting the Journey
When my children came into the picture I strived to be the healthiest and happiest version of myself, but wherever you go, there you are. I began my quest to figure out how to cultivate a healthy love for myself as well as a healthy lifestyle. It took the last 10 years of research for me to cultivate and implement a plan, and I am now living the results. My plan was to generate weight loss through a self love journey. I began with the basics, like self affirmations in the mirror, hanging beautiful pictures of myself around the house, and beginning a motto of saying yes. I hired a registered dietician, generated support through my community by writing a letter asking for help, joined the YMCA, and started attending exercise classes. Key habits in my journey were daily exercise with friends, tracking my food on my fitness pal, and counting calories. I chose to step into the photograph with my children instead of hiding behind the lens. Finally, I chose to participate in my life instead of being a bystander and witness to it, and began to journal my experience and share it via my blog.
I began August 1, 2014 at 254 pounds. As of this August 2, 2015, I weighed 157. That's a weight loss total of 97 pounds. It was not just an outside transformation, my self love journey revolutionized my health! I reversed and cured the majority of my physical health issues. For instance, I no longer had diabetes type 2, high blood pressure, planter fasciitis, high cholesterol, chronic back pain, and subsequent daily dependency on pain medicine, self loathing, or active food addiction. This was a journey that changed my whole existence.
Finding My Motivation
What was the catalyst for this radical change? My rock bottom before I started my journey was when I was realized I was continuing to eat myself to death in front of my children, while witnessing them become more and more hooked on flour, sugar, and quantity. When I added in my kidney cancer survivor status, I truly felt shame ridden, overwhelmed, and hopeless. I was squandering my precious gift of surviving cancer, and still not living life. That became the straw that broke my camel’s back. I knew that my children deserved a better example. I didn’t have the self worth in that moment to begin for me, but it quickly had to become just that. Learning self care which cultivates self love and self worth was not taught to me. My mom was a great mom. Yet, she was not taught self care and self love. As far as I know, very few past generations were taught these skills. This became my motivation!
The Journey Continues
Although this year was the best in my life, it was also the hardest. We had numerous family emergencies, a couple of which were life threatening. Talking about the luxury of self care, when in the midst of acute or sustained trauma or drama is difficult. Yet, those are the times when we need these coping mechanisms the most. I am grateful that my children are not solely relying on me to teach them reading, writing, and arithmetic. I was ok at school, but not great. I believe every child should have the same opportunity to learn, regardless of who the parents or guardians are, how they feel about themselves, and the day to day grind they are managing. I believe the same needs to be true with self love, happiness, and gratitude. There are numerous skills and tools that are approachable, comprehensible, and useful within all of these subjects for elementary children. There is more of an awareness of the various benefits that come from studying and teaching mindfulness, gratitude, and happiness. If children are more grounded and accepting in their own self worth, they will be less likely to look outside themselves for validation. Teaching children how to talk kindly to themselves, as well as each other, is as important as any homework page being handed out. Yes, as a parent I should be tackling it all. I know I should work my hardest at my job, practice my daily self care, demonstrate impeccable role modeling, while tackling my to do list with ease and grace, However, I’m not perfect, and not striving to be. I amjust taking the next best step for myself and for my family each day.
Where Does Your Journey Begin?
So did social services get called because I modeled boundaries and put my own oxygen mask on? Nope, my kids have witnessed my self care, adjusted to it, and learned from it. Since I believe this education should be in schools, I am facilitating just that. I am going to teach a self love, gratitude, and happiness class for second and third graders this fall and again in the spring. It is an after school PTA program at Malcolm X Elementary in Berkeley, CA. This is my attempt at paying it forward, and helping to make a difference in our children. I am grateful for the opportunity to be an advocate for this important work. Our children deserve to be taught how to like themselves and how to take care great care of themselves. Think of what incredible parents they will make for their children if they grow up with these valuable life skills. Isn't our goal to give our children the best possible foundation to thrive? I believe that foundation should come from learning to cultivate inner peace and acceptance of oneself.
It starts with putting yourself first.