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Confessions of a SLAM BAM Contestant

In order to be fair, I have to be completely honest, and make three confessions. I would ask for you to read on without judgment, but I recognize that I have put myself in a position for just that. Here it goes…

First, I have not eaten clean 100% of the time. Yes, it is true. I have strayed from the diet at various moments along my journey. I have done this because my goal for this competition was not to lose as much weight until the end. My intent was to start a new lifestyle, which meant that I wanted to learn the “how to’s” or what to eat but in the context of my life. My plan was to learn to eat with control, so when I took a bite of my children’s macaroni & cheese, it was a conscious decision that I controlled the when and how much. It prevented me from saying “I can’t” and allowed me to say, “Is that what I really want because I may eat it anytime as a treat?”

My straying from the plan allowed me to live a life that I could continue. If I ever thought, “I will have to wait until after the contest is over?” then I stopped to consider why and how would it be different. For this reason, I do not have a long list of foods that I want to eat when the plan is over because I have treated myself to those things along the way, or I have allowed myself a bite which determined that it was not worth eating that food. I have also been aware of foods that are more difficult for me to control (cookies!) so that I had time to build the confidence to know that I could start clean again after my treat and so that I would not panic if I ate more than I planned.

I have indeed gained confidence in myself throughout the past 3-4 months because I now control what I eat. Food does not control me. I no longer obsess about +what I am going to eat and when. I learned to plan ahead of how I was going to handle being outside my home and how to make the best choices.

This really came into play when I went to Disney World with my family during the competition where the choices were pizza, macaroni and cheese or iceberg lettuce with chicken only. As frightened as I was to take that trip and as I panicked as I was when I arrived and saw my choices, that trip was one of my greatest lessons and confidence-builders regarding eating. I learned to plan ahead by getting groceries and bringing nuts and fruit for snacks on the plane and in the parks. I discovered that I was not hungry and had food that I really enjoyed. I also learned how to make the best choices when given poor options. Most importantly, I learned to not stress if I could not resist the temptation to eat a slice of pizza with a salad, but instead celebrate the fact that I was able to enjoy it and then stop at one slice.

My second confession is that I enjoy looking in the mirror. I have become like the stereotypical jock from the movies that flexes her muscles in the mirror and admires them (although I do not kiss my biceps when I flex them.) I used to laugh at those people because I did not understand them. Now I realize that they (as I) were celebrating themselves and the hard work it took to build those bodies. I have come a long way from when I avoided looking in the mirror and if I caught a glance of myself, I would have self-loathing thoughts of myself. I am proud to have the body that I have dreamed about that I never thought I could have. I now know that my body is just that…mine, and I am able to shape it the way that I choose (and buy black leather pants).

My last confession is that I have learned the secret of success. This secret has allowed me to run and swim faster, lower my weight to the lowest it has been since the start of college and even to maintain patience during the grueling trials of potty-training my child. I came to learn this secret when I hit a wall against my progress and a concerned coach pulled me aside and asked me what was holding me back. I initially did not think anything was holding me back, but then I thought about it.

My ideas of what was “realistic” for me were creating a boundary that I could not cross. I had created my reality so as I did not hope for what I could never obtain. At the point that I was broached with this profound question, I had reached physically a body that I thought was “the best I would ever do.” I had been running and exercising the best I thought I could do.

That is when I realized that my ideas of what was “realistic” for me had not prevented disappointment, but prevented my personal progress. It was then that I understood for the first time what had been repeated to me many times, “Where your mind goes, your body will follow.”

Here is the secret. All it entailed for me to do was to re-learn two words that I had known since the time that I acquired language: “I can.” It was at that point that I allowed myself to push myself to run as fast as I could and then slow down as needed. I allowed myself to dream and started picturing the ideal body for myself. I let go of the thoughts of “I’ll always have big hips” or “I will never have defined muscles.” It was then that my body began to change.

It was then that I realized that I could apply this to all parts of my life. I started telling myself that “I can stay patient with my child having a tantrum” or “I can deal with bad news and stay strong.” The secret of telling myself “I can” has changed my life forever.

Lastly, I cannot avoid mentioning that more than my life has changed. My husband has followed suit of my new lifestyle and has lost 25lbs. My 3-year old talks about exercising and has her Lego guys exercise when she plays. There are also the lessons that I hope that I am teaching my children: 1. They should take time for themselves, 2. They know the meaning and benefit of a healthy lifestyle and 3. Regardless of what they are used to or what others tell them their destiny is, only they determine the path their life takes, because they CAN.

~ Shannon Panszis, 2009 SLAM BAM Contest 2nd Place

In order to be fair, I have to be completely honest, and make three confessions. I would ask for you to read on without judgment, but I recognize that I have put myself in a position for just that. Here it goes…

First, I have not eaten clean 100% of the time. Yes, it is true. I have strayed from the diet at various moments along my journey. I have done this because my goal for this competition was not to lose as much weight until the end. My intent was to start a new lifestyle, which meant that I wanted to learn the “how to’s” or what to eat but in the context of my life. My plan was to learn to eat with control, so when I took a bite of my children’s macaroni & cheese, it was a conscious decision that I controlled the when and how much. It prevented me from saying “I can’t” and allowed me to say, “Is that what I really want because I may eat it anytime as a treat?”

My straying from the plan allowed me to live a life that I could continue. If I ever thought, “I will have to wait until after the contest is over?” then I stopped to consider why and how would it be different. For this reason, I do not have a long list of foods that I want to eat when the plan is over because I have treated myself to those things along the way, or I have allowed myself a bite which determined that it was not worth eating that food. I have also been aware of foods that are more difficult for me to control (cookies!) so that I had time to build the confidence to know that I could start clean again after my treat and so that I would not panic if I ate more than I planned.

I have indeed gained confidence in myself throughout the past 3-4 months because I now control what I eat. Food does not control me. I no longer obsess about +what I am going to eat and when. I learned to plan ahead of how I was going to handle being outside my home and how to make the best choices.

This really came into play when I went to Disney World with my family during the competition where the choices were pizza, macaroni and cheese or iceberg lettuce with chicken only. As frightened as I was to take that trip and as I panicked as I was when I arrived and saw my choices, that trip was one of my greatest lessons and confidence-builders regarding eating. I learned to plan ahead by getting groceries and bringing nuts and fruit for snacks on the plane and in the parks. I discovered that I was not hungry and had food that I really enjoyed. I also learned how to make the best choices when given poor options. Most importantly, I learned to not stress if I could not resist the temptation to eat a slice of pizza with a salad, but instead celebrate the fact that I was able to enjoy it and then stop at one slice.

My second confession is that I enjoy looking in the mirror. I have become like the stereotypical jock from the movies that flexes her muscles in the mirror and admires them (although I do not kiss my biceps when I flex them.) I used to laugh at those people because I did not understand them. Now I realize that they (as I) were celebrating themselves and the hard work it took to build those bodies. I have come a long way from when I avoided looking in the mirror and if I caught a glance of myself, I would have self-loathing thoughts of myself. I am proud to have the body that I have dreamed about that I never thought I could have. I now know that my body is just that…mine, and I am able to shape it the way that I choose (and buy black leather pants).

My last confession is that I have learned the secret of success. This secret has allowed me to run and swim faster, lower my weight to the lowest it has been since the start of college and even to maintain patience during the grueling trials of potty-training my child. I came to learn this secret when I hit a wall against my progress and a concerned coach pulled me aside and asked me what was holding me back. I initially did not think anything was holding me back, but then I thought about it.

My ideas of what was “realistic” for me were creating a boundary that I could not cross. I had created my reality so as I did not hope for what I could never obtain. At the point that I was broached with this profound question, I had reached physically a body that I thought was “the best I would ever do.” I had been running and exercising the best I thought I could do.

That is when I realized that my ideas of what was “realistic” for me had not prevented disappointment, but prevented my personal progress. It was then that I understood for the first time what had been repeated to me many times, “Where your mind goes, your body will follow.”

Here is the secret. All it entailed for me to do was to re-learn two words that I had known since the time that I acquired language: “I can.” It was at that point that I allowed myself to push myself to run as fast as I could and then slow down as needed. I allowed myself to dream and started picturing the ideal body for myself. I let go of the thoughts of “I’ll always have big hips” or “I will never have defined muscles.” It was then that my body began to change.

It was then that I realized that I could apply this to all parts of my life. I started telling myself that “I can stay patient with my child having a tantrum” or “I can deal with bad news and stay strong.” The secret of telling myself “I can” has changed my life forever.

Lastly, I cannot avoid mentioning that more than my life has changed. My husband has followed suit of my new lifestyle and has lost 25lbs. My 3-year old talks about exercising and has her Lego guys exercise when she plays. There are also the lessons that I hope that I am teaching my children: 1. They should take time for themselves, 2. They know the meaning and benefit of a healthy lifestyle and 3. Regardless of what they are used to or what others tell them their destiny is, only they determine the path their life takes, because they CAN.

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