Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Extreme Weight Loss - Mehrbod Sets Records, Good and Bad

Due to the All Star Game, I got to watch Extreme Weight Loss in its entirety tonight.  I am, however, going through So You Think You Can Dance withdrawals...

But I'm glad I got to watch this one right away.  Mehrbod is quite an inspiration.

Mehrbod and his family are from Iran, where they often didn't have enough to eat. To compensate, he learned to stuff himself with food whenever it was around, since he literally didn't know where his next meal was coming from.  By the time he was in the United States and didn't have to worry about starving anymore, the pattern had become ingrained and he gained weight - a lot of it.

Though Mehrbod began his EWL year at 434 pounds, he had been at 498.  He lost 64 pounds on his own before Chris Powell came into his life, so part of his transformation had already taken place.  He was inspired by his girlfriend Mona, who loved him at almost 500 pounds and stayed by his side no matter what.  He was hoping they would get married, but since he had to ask her parents first he wanted to lose the rest of the weight so they would feel he would be able to take care of himself and her. 

Mehrbod lost 137 pounds in the first phase and kept going strong through the second phase.  He even got to ski again, something he hadn't been able to do for 12 years due to his weight.  Chris enlisted Olympic champion Picabo Street to get Mehrbod moving on the slopes again, and he did a fantastic job.  You could tell he was enjoying the freedom to do things that his body had held him back from. (As someone who was just learning to ski before I gained weight, I could relate to the feeling - even though I'm not quite in skiing shape yet!)  On top of that, he no longer needed to use the sleep apnea machine that kept him steadily breathing every night.  What a relief it had to be, not to worry if he was going to wake up in the morning or not. 

Unfortunately, Phase Three did not go smoothly for him.  He gathered the courage to speak to Mona's parents about marriage, but they were not receptive because they didn't like his career choice.  They hated his DJing work, and wanted their daughter to marry a doctor or a lawyer.  When he set up a meeting with Mona to talk, she stood him up.  (In her defense...I have a feeling she was highly influenced by her parents and probably forbidden to even think about marrying Mehrbod.)  This sent him into a downward spiral, eating all of his old comfort foods constantly.  Once again, I could relate...to having people tell you that you need to be what THEY want you to be or else you're not good enough.  I still deal with that from some people!

Chris thought all was still going well - because Mehrbod rigged his scale to show continued weight loss when he did his video chats with Chris.  He thought he could get back on track before the next big weigh-in, but that didn't happen.  Instead, he had to confess what he did to Chris.  And he had gained more than 60 pounds back in that short amount of time.  Chris was livid...wondering if he could ever trust Mehrbod again and if he could really reach his goals.  Mehrbod had set a weight loss record in Phase One, but he also set a weight GAIN record in Phase Three. 

As it turns out, Mehrbod was able to get back on track in a big way.  By the end of the year, he had reached his goal weight of 230.  He looked amazing and happy.  Plus, he and Mona are back together again.  No word on an engagement, or how her parents feel about this...but it seemed like they worked through whatever was keeping them apart.  And Mehrbod set a 3rd record - for the biggest weight loss in Phase Four!

What can we learn from Mehrbod?  Don't let setbacks set you back forever, find a way to work out your problems without turning to food, and NEVER let other people tell you you're not good enough or shouldn't be yourself.  I'm rooting for him to do what he wants to do with his life...and can't wait to see what his next goal is!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Musical Inspiration

Does music inspire you?

I know it really inspires me...to dance, to dream, to get moving, to have faith.

For this reason I started posting an Inspiring Song of the Day a few weeks ago on my Facebook page. The music ranges from Christian and Gospel to Country, Broadway, Pop, and even Alternative Rock.  I draw both happiness and strength from all types of music.

Some of these songs are ones that you probably know, while others could be new to you.  I love sharing music, especially if it's something that not a lot of people know about, but should because it's just that good.  Sometimes the hidden treasures are the best!

So...what songs inspire you?  Feel free to leave a comment here, or on Facebook once you "like" my page.  And I hope you enjoy the music I post there as well!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

An Inspiring Evening With Author Taylor Stevens

Two weeks ago, I was blessed to be part of a very special evening. 

It's always special when you get to meet a best-selling author.  But this time it was even better.

I first met Taylor Stevens through my friend Kim, who was able to get some of us galleys of Taylor's first book, The Informationist, to read and review.  The story and characters were so amazing that none of us could put it down until we finished reading the entire thing.

Since then I've also read the next two novels in the series, The Innocent and The Doll.  Each time Vanessa "Michael" Munroe winds up with an assignment, I learn more about what makes her tick and why she does what she does.  And each of her assignments is so fascinating, you want to read MORE.

In The Doll, Michael is kidnapped into taking an assignment, leading her into the world of human trafficking.  You can read my review at my Goodreads page.  But I would also like to tell you more about what made the evening of June 18th so important to me.

I had met Taylor at another gathering in the Cleveland area back in the fall.  It was a wonderful experience, other than the fact the coffeehouse where it was held completely acted like they had no idea we were coming and we were placed in what basically amounted to a storage room.  Taylor was a trouper and made it special despite the lack of welcome at this establishment.  (And the coffeehouse is no longer in business...why am I not surprised?)

This time, Taylor was speaking at the Strongsville library and she arranged (with the help of a wonderful librarian!) for her Cleveland friends to have dinner with her beforehand.  We met at a Friday's and had wonderful service. We all got to talk with Taylor over dinner, where we learned more about her, the next two books on the way...and her love of bacon.  ;o)  Hearing someone speak - up close and personal - about her passion for writing and her literary goals is such an inspiration; I know it motivated me even more to accomplish my own goals.  It was also fascinating to talk with the librarians who were there, and to learn more about how libraries order e-books and hard copies.  All of it is important information if you want to be a published author and get your work out there!  (The only thing missing was Kim...she couldn't be there and we really missed her!)

In addition, Taylor's talk at the library further pushed me to get my novels published.  She grew up in a cult and was not formally educated past 6th grade...but Taylor is an extremely intelligent lady who learned on her own and through others after she got out of that atmosphere.  It's proof that you can get past whatever circumstances you have dealt with or are currently dealing with - the past is only one part of your story. 

Late last week I received a message from Taylor that I had won one of the items she autographed for a giveaway, and yesterday I was able to pick it up at the library.  It's a giant poster of The Doll.  This, to me, is further comfirmation from God that He wants me to write and get my stories out there.  I'm in the midst of organizing my office, and now I have a huge reminder to write, write, write!  In the middle of all of the stress and madness of life  - He made sure I got the message.

So please check out my review and Taylor's books.  You will love them.  And keep her in mind whenever you wonder if you can live your dreams.  Taylor Stevens is proof that you CAN beat the odds!