Race Schedule and Results

Thursday, January 17, 2013

My sister...


**Look at me, two posts in one week.  This is a really important post for me.  I hope you enjoy it and are as inspired as I am**

As most of you know, I have an older sister, Kristen.  She is one of my best friends.  She's an amazing woman, inside and out and I've always known that.  But it wasn't until this last year that I think SHE started to know that.

You see, my sister and I are complete opposites in so many ways (they say opposites attract, right?  Maybe that's why we get along so well!).  She's an English teacher and I'm a math/science person.  She loves her cats one of her cats and I'm not a cat person.  She drinks coffee, I can't stand it.  She reads, listens to all kinds of music, goes to book clubs, gets her hair cut often.  Me, eh, I read trashy magazines while I bike, listen mainly to country music, don't have any clubs that I belong to (unless you count USAT) and well, I can't tell you the last time my hair was styled (ponytails are totally a style).  Physically, we couldn't be more different either... I have dark hair, hers is reddish blond.  I'm nearly 5'8".  She's a little shorter (teehee). She's fair skinned and burns easily and I love my deep tan in the summer.  People see us and many times can't believe we are related.

One thing my sister has struggled with for a long time is her weight.  She's a beautiful woman (I said that already) but she's been on the heavier side for a while (now, hear me out.  That's not me being mean.  Our family struggles with weight.  It's a given fact.  My mom has lost 50+ pounds on Weight Watchers and works hard to maintain her size now.  I have lost 30+ pounds on Weight Watcher.   I work out daily because I love food.  And if I look at a plate of something yummy, a pound or two goes to my thighs.  It's part of the Degnen genes). 

We all knew she had to make a change.  We wanted her live a healthy life without complication.  I have a husband who lives each day with Type 1 Diabetes - a disease that he didn't bring on.  He can't change that but my sister had a choice to change and instead, was going down a path of Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure and so many other things.  They were going to cut her life short if she didn't make a change.  I wanted that for her.  My parents wanted that for her.  Her husband, her friends, her coworkers wanted that for her.  But she needed to want that for herself.  That's the key to any one's success, right?  She's given one opportunity to live her life, one body to live it in and it was up to her how to do that.
I have tried to never judge my sister on any of her choices in life.  But I always quietly wondered, "why isn't she willing to change?". It's not always easy, but I've seen people do it time and time again.  We would talk to her about it, I would try to get her to sign up for races (um... that's my love, not hers), but inevitably, it ended with someone in tears and all of us feeling horrible.  My sister has tried so many things to lose the weight, but it seems that for years, her weight would win. She wasn't ready for whatever reason.  And it made us sad.  All of us.  She just didn't seem like a happy person... I mean, she wasn't happy with herself.  She had an amazing life on the outside, but her inner sassy, healthy, self was being hidden by excess weight, aching knees, and frumpy clothes.  And all too often a very sad face.

Something happened last year that flipped the switch.  Although she says that it was one instance (it's kinda of personal so I won't go into that, but isn't every one's reason personal?), I think it was more that that.  A year ago, she decided to join Weight Watchers.  Now, my sister had done weight watchers a millions times and swore it didn't work. "But this time is different", she said.  I wanted to believer her so bad.  And I knew that I would support her in hopes that she realized this journey, even if she'd started it many times before, wouldn't be one that she was on alone.  She was determined not to be the person that she hated anymore. 

And let me just tell you - she took control.  Slowly the weight started to come off.  She reformed the way she saw food.  This lead to a difference in the way that she saw herself.  The little things made her smile again, something that we hadn't seen in many many years.  I would get calls (and still do) once a week on Tuesdays with her checking in, telling me how her weigh in went, how her meeting went, what new recipe she was trying.  When we were together, she had a glow about her.  She was on a path of happiness.  I could see it.  This time was THE time.

And what a year it's been.  This week marks the 1 year anniversary of my sister changing her life forever.  There have been so many milestones along the way.  I remember her calling and telling me that her husband could touch his hands together when he hugged her for the first time.  I remember when he picked her up and swung her around for the first time.  I remember seeing her in July, when she was down 30 pounds and not recognizing her.  I remember the call of her sobbing as she bought size 18 pants, then 16's, then 14's and now her 12's are big.  She was shopping in what she calls "normal people stores".  I remember encouraging her to leave Kohl's and try a place like Ann Taylor Loft... a store she had never stepped foot into.  I would get photos of her in the dressing room in like red pants (something she would never buy), but tried on just to see if they fit (and they did!)  I remember the day she called to tell me she bought a super expensive bra at Victoria Secret just because she had never been able to shop there before.  Of the time when she was beaming because she weighed less than Tom!  Every time I talk to her, it's a new "thing" in her life that brings her joy.

I haven't seen my sister since September.  I'm going to visit her in 16 days and I can't wait.  I'm going to sob like a baby when I see the new her.  The sister that I don't even recognize.  I was sent a picture on Christmas day and this just explains it all.
Look at that sass. I FREAKING LOVE IT.  The picture of her in a green shirt was taken back in 2009 I think.  That's how I remember my sister.  Look at her now... I told you, she's a beautiful person inside and out, and now she just exudes happiness, something that's been trapped inside of her for so long.

When you ask my sister how far she's come, there aren't words to describe the conversation.  On the physical/health side, she has lost 71 pounds.  Her knees don't creek and lock when she goes up the stairs.  Her blood pressure is normal.  She's seen differences in her menstrual cycles (for the good!).  But on the emotional side... I don't even know if she knows how far she's come.  She loves life.  That's all there is to it.  She's happy, and fun, and sassy.  She smiles and jokes and has a confidence about her that is unlike anything I've ever seen from her.  She's living the life that she deserves.

And her journey isn't done.  And my hopes her her aren't either.  I'm hoping that now that spring's around the corner, she'll start incorporating more exercise into her plan.  I'm hoping that she continues to learn about healthy eating and sticks to what she knows.  I hope she continues to lose until she's at a place where SHE can look at herself and say "damn, I'm hot".  I hope that she gets the call that the baby she's patiently waiting to adopt is waiting for her, knowing that she now has the energy to keep up with a little one.
 
But most importantly I hope she knows how incredibly proud of her I am, and that she realizes that she's given herself the greatest gift of all... saving her own life.

*** Kristen reads this blog and I told her to keep checking back because I have the most amazing followers.  If you would, leave a comment with some words of wisdom, your thoughts or something that will help keep her moving forward.  I'd love her to know how amazing she's doing from someone other than me***



26 comments:

MissFancyPants said...

Such an awesome post on so many levels. Congrats to your sister on her journey :)

Teamarcia said...

Wow! Wow! Wow! WTG Kristen--you look amazing! I loved reading this!

Matthew Smith said...

Oh my word! I choked up and have a tear or two in my eyes. Kristen looks fantastic! So pretty and with such a great smile too! You are blessed with a terrific sister, Colleen. Not only is she good lookin', but from the stories I hear about her, she's a really great person too. Maybe I'll get to meet her one of these days. :)

WAY TO GO, KRISTEN! You look fantastic!!!

One Crazy Penguin said...

This almost made me cry. What a freaking inspiration! Not only does she look healthy, but (more importantly) she looks so happy!

Kick ass, Kristen!

TriMOEngr said...

Love that her "sassy" has returned. Those pictures are so inspiring. What is even more inspiring is that she didn't fall victim to "good enough" - and has kept going even after being able to shop in the "normal" sections/stores. I've plateau'd on my journey because of that and am constantly looking for ways to push out of that comfort zone and refocus on the journey. Congrats to her and may her journey continue for many decades to come. God bless her and her good health!

H Love said...

It takes to courage to go on a journey that feels all uphill. Way to go! You are on your way. I love seeing the pride and pure happiness in your "after" smile. Never. Never. Never. Give Up.

Allison said...

Kristen, I hope you know that I've always thought you were beautiful. You are kind, thoughtful, and a wonderful, beautiful woman. And now I hope you're getting to a place where you believe it, too. I, too, have been through the transformation, and it's a great place to be. Keep up the great work--you look amazing and what's even better is that I can see from that picture (and others that you've posted) that you FEEL amazing. ((HUGS))

Heather-O said...

AWESOME!!!! Thinking of her and her husband as they venture through the adoption process. Fingers crossed!!!!!!

Carolina John said...

Wow that's fantastic! My wife went from a size 18 to a size 4 on weight watchers (85 lbs), and she thought that her original goal weight was ludicrous. until she got there. now she's a 4 time marathoner.

Great job Kristen! stick with it until you hit that goal weight if you're not already there. It's an amazing journey.

Lauren Bogenberger said...

This is amazing and such a great story. I love the change in attitude! I have a sister who I could completely describe in the same way. Any advice from Kristen on how she decided to take that first step?

Coy Martinez said...

What a great way to tell the story of your sisters weight loss success! I too was 80 lbs overweight and after several attempts at trying, I finally got it. I'm so proud of her and I bet you're gonna really have a great time when you guys are together!

megan said...

Kristen, you look amazing!!!! Congratulations on your fantastic journey and the progress you've made!!!

I've been hoping for an update post for a while, and I'm so glad I caught it! :)

Jen McElroy said...

Congratulations! Your transformation is truly spectacular. Your attitude change is obvious, even through a blog, and should be commended.

I joined Weight Watchers in July 2010 and have lost 200 pounds and hope that my sister has the same amount of pride in me as yours does for you.

Again, Congratulations and many happy wishes for your continued health and happiness.

ONEHOURIRONMAN said...

Fantastic!
That is one great story

RockStarTri said...

This is a great story. Congrats to you sister on so many different levels.

Kristin Deaton said...

Your sister Kristen is a fighter. Her beauty and sas has shown through. Noone can make you do that you have to have that push and she did. IT's such an inspiring story because most pp; think they couldn't do it, but in fact they can!! Congrats Kristen keep up the good work! You look amazing

TMB @ RACING WITH BABES said...

I seriously cried throughout this entire post. It's so amazing to hear of people focusing in and making a healthy change. Congrats Kristen!

Ironman By Thirty said...

You look fantastic Kristen!!!! What an awesome story. Thank you so much for sharing Colleen!

Keep up the awesome work Kristen!

Big Daddy Diesel said...

That is soooo awesome!!! Congrats Kristen on so many levels.

Robyn said...

Wow! So inspiring. Congratulations, Kristen!

Caroline said...

Bravo Kristen!
Special post Colleen...

Kristen said...

Thank you everyone for such wonderful words of encouragement and support. I would not be down 71 pounds without the endless support from my amazing family, and especially my AMAZING sister, Colleen. This journey is one that is far from over, and knowing that I will forever have your kind words from this post to encourage me further makes me so happy.

To the few who asked, there was just something that "clicked" this time. After spending much of my adult life disliking myself (on the outside) and having a nasty thing happen at work, I knew it was time to do it for myself. Initially I didn't tell my parents or sister that I was starting on Weight Watchers because I didn't want to let them down AGAIN. Honestly, I wasn't sure I could do it, but as those 10 pounds became 20, then 30, and so on, I knew I had it this time. It wasn't until I lost 10 pounds that I told Colleen what I was doing. The difference this time is that I was open and willing and diligent in tracking and attending meetings, which has been my saving grace.

Thank you again, Colleen. You honestly have no idea how special this blog post is to me. I love you! ~Kristen

Mel -Tall Mom on the Run said...

AMAZING congrats to her!!

My sister and I are opposites as well..

Anne-Marie said...

Wow - she looks amazing! Love the new picture. Big congrats to Kristen!!

Jill Poon said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE this post!! Such an amazing bond you guys have! Congratulations to Kristen, she is a fighter!! Way to go girl!!

Jessica Felice Cappuzzello said...

Wow! I had tears in my eyes while reading this! Thank you for posting! Kristen - You are such an inspiration! I have a few family members that I worry about constantly and hearing your story gave me hope! I am so happy for you and will pray for you and your husband that your little one will come into your lives very soon. :) Colleen - I love feeling like I can keep up with you via this blog. You and your husband are so cute together and I love how you lead such a healthy, athletic lifestyle! Hope your pregnancy is going well and you are feeling great! Xoxo

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