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April 11th… I have decided to back away from leadership training in Celebrate Recovery. I need to concentrate on “follow-ship” not “leader-ship” for the time being so I don’t lose myself in the title and quit working on my own hurts, hang-ups, and habits. When the time is ready I can once again sign up, but I really think the Lord has put it on my heart to not attempt to join leadership for now. I still feel so new to the whole process and want to give these principles time and myself the space I need to really delve into the issues that have continued to follow me even after all the study and therapy I’ve experienced. Some of those issues I don’t think I have ever addressed directly… like my stealing pain pills, or my shopping and then not using the items, or my OCD when it comes to my handwriting. When I begin to think about how much I’ve skirted around during other therapy and study experiences, I shudder.
There… I’ve taken my shower and gotten dressed, made my bed, and cleaned the bathtub area in the bathroom, made a fresh pot of coffee and opened my windows to allow some fresh air to circulate. I still have much to accomplish during Spring Cleaning 2021 however these first steps really make a difference and set up the areas better for a future deep cleaning. Scrubbing the toilet area the other day and bringing all the porcelain back to white made such a difference in my mood for the rest of the day. Although I put off such projects like scrubbing the toilet or dusting or vacuuming, etc. I always feel a million times better about myself and my living quarters whenever I do them. I need to get in the habit of doing those chores more often – it’s a lot like taking more showers – it brings me in closer touch with the present and with gratitude each and everytime I perform the actions.

April 10th 2021 - I am starting over and I am excited!

"Any changes you make to your eating plan should be sustainable long-term so that it becomes a permanent lifestyle change instead of a temporary diet"
Jen Mueller, Certified Personal Trainer and Health Coach, 1/11/2021

October 12th... 2020 - 9 Years Ago Today…
My life looked completely different than it does now… I was happily married to a man I had called my husband for the preceding 30-years and together we were the proud parents of three amazing young men – the oldest of which had graduated that year from NIU and who was planning to marry the love of his life three days from today and the youngest of which had just come home from his 1st day of working for Sears, having gotten his degree in Applied Mathematics the previous year from IIT. Our middle son had just returned home after being out of the house for quite a few years getting his degree at IIT and beginning his career in a suburb of Chicago.
My sister lived nearby in a group home in Rockford. My brother was still in relatively good health living in his apartment in Chicago and working for a Contractor’s hardware store. Nothing about today foretold this future for any of us...
We all lived together in a rambling old house at 1311 North Church Street, a 5-bedroom fixer upper that we never did quite finish. One of our rented sons and his partner lived with us as did a rented daughter needing a place to stay that was quieter and more loving than from whence she came. This was the house that 20 years prior we had moved across the river for… the one where my kids actually grew up. As rough-around-the-edges as it was, we all loved that old house and we shared it gladly with an ever-changing cadre and a passel of cats. I was a full-time student at NIU starting what I thought would be my 3rd wonderful year and I was on top of the world.
Then 24-hours later we all fell from heaven in the matter of a couple of hours – into a place so dark that that nothing living could have thrived there…
Nine years have passed since those memories were made and today the world little resembles that reality. My oldest son now calls that beauty of a woman his wife and together they are the loving parents to my amazing grandson, Jackson, who turned 5-years old this past July. My middle son and the love of his life moved to the Twin Cities area and he is now a research chemist. My youngest son and his wife recently bought a home in the same neighborhood he grew up in.
And as for me I drive a different car than the one I had in 2011, I am an Oma in addition to a mama… I now live alone in an apartment overlooking the river, having lost that old house 5-years ago to foreclosure & my clowder of cats now numbers a sole survivor – Loki. I finally got my degree in 2014 but have worked at OfficeMax for the past 5+ years. My nights are many times lonely but I have also learned to appreciate my alone times. I am quieter than she was and a lot more introspective. I was a prolific poet back then but today I write only into my journal. School is a distant memory.
The world contracts under the weight of a pandemic that has permanently altered how we as a society live and very little in my life resembles anything that would have been true those nine short years ago. Sometimes I am left breathless at the realization of how much is different. Where I once was dependent upon others I now depend primarily on myself & even my sister has moved 45-minutes away – to Oregon, IL My brother’s ashes now adorn one of my bookshelves – in between my husband and mother.
On my way to work this morning I started to examine just how unlikely it would have been for anyone to accurately predict this present-day reality from the life we inhabited 108-months ago. And beyond the injunctions of pop-psychology there is little rhyme or reason to how we all fare when we look into the mirror today. On a brighter note I do weigh 25+ pounds less than I did 9-years ago… but I also see a lot more grey hairs than I know I had back then. I never expected the universe to remain unchanged during the last decade but I didn’t prepare myself in advance for just how dark the storms would be… I am melancholy today – and reflective to a fault.

September 9th 2020... HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

August 1st... reset my weight, reset my weight tracker to finally reflect my present goal - no more looking backward and riding the laurels of my previous victories... starting fresh today. I have really been working on becoming more of a present-tense realist when it comes to some of my goals - it really doesn't matter anymore that I lost 80+ pounds years ago - BRAVO to me, but now it's time to move forward again.

July 26th... This has indeed been a stressful and rollercoaster kind of Spring/Summer...with quarantines and masks and a shortage of almost everything at one time or another, we have all been affected by this pandemic - no matter how remotely. I have worked throughout - being considered an essential worker. I was tested back on April 13th and I was shown to be negative. However circumstance beyond my control have made it imperative that I get tested again this Tuesday morning. I got the news of a possible exposure just as I was wrapping up a wonderful weekend with my grandson. At first I freaked out a bit but now I am calmer and will simply do what I need to in order to put all lingering doubts to rest.
In between all of that I am struggling with my weight, my eating, my exercise, and my pain levels... I have tried to log my food everyday for the past couple of months but I still haven't made one complete month. I know I have indulged in behavior simply out of an attempt to feel better that were not in any way the right solution for the problem... now I need to pick-up where I left off and get back into the journey of my life.

May 11th… I had the most amazing night yesterday and day today! After I got home from work I had the chance to videochat with Angie. Then I went over to Erich’s & Haley’s house to visit and they gifted me the most beautiful ring – a delicate gold filigree spelling out RUSZCZAK & I was speechless. Shannon, Haley’s aunt, and her beau John Kim gifted me a baked mostaccioli and green salad lunch which I feasted on this afternoon. And Courtney and Camden bought me a world map cork board which I will hang first thing tomorrow.
I got to work on time and as soon as the workday began we were swamped! I was so busy that the first four hours of my shift went by before I even noticed. I ended up with 4-SquareTrade & 6 Rewards Sign-Ups! Best day I’ve had in awhile! I had some great clients and a few jerks, but the day was wonderful overall and for that I am extremely grateful. Days like this make going to work a joy!
Right now I am just sitting at my desk, watching TV and journaling. I want to make a list of my credit cards and their account balances versus limits. I felt like spending money I didn’t have today and I promised my inner child that if she would just be patient we could make a list and she could see that we’re making real progress. She agreed as long as I did make this list and then keep it current. I don’t want to sound hokey about my inner child but sometimes I really do feel like its my internal childlike self that gets me into trouble when it comes to splurging on spending and also eating. It is that part of me that perpetually wants. I want to rein her in while also showing that part of me that I am worth this effort, that as long as I bring all of the different sides of myself together in love I can’t lose and life will get better every single day. I want to be as joyful as I am now – not just happy for the moment but deeply content.
I have tracked my food for the last three days and I honestly believe that I am more conscious of what I put into my body because of it. Sticking to this plan has lifted my self-image out of the shadow space it has occupied lately… I so need that.

April 17th... It was a little over a month ago that I last posted here, on my wall. In the interim what was just a topic of conversation (COVID-19) has become a scourge on the world at large and every one of our communities. Life as we know it is changed. Sheltering at home has both upsides and perils. With more time on my hands since my hours, even as an essential worker, have been drastically cut, I have more time to cook and prepare foods that are cleaner and better.
On the downside, hours of boredom make mindless eating far more possible and even a worthy alternative to doing nothing... much to my peril and my weight. For those of us that tend to eat according to our emotional state, the dread of the virus and the stress of 24/7 predictions, numbers, and tragedy leads us, in isolation, and deprived of the ability to reach out and touch those we love, to eat more and to eat more of the foods that will defeat our aspirations of getting fit, getting healthy and feeling in control of our world. We have a lot to pray for... but in the end we will succeed or fail according to how diligently we practice what we say we believe... that we're all in this together.

March 11th... The time has come for me to make a commitment to myself and my health. The specifics haven't been worked out yet, but I will see my Primary on March 18th and from there I want to restart my commitment to SparkPeople, to fitness, eating clean, and making this the best time of my life...
So much is happening in the world right now to make it a scary place... news agencies from around the world continue to announce the dangers of the COVID-19 virus and it had led to mass panic in so many sectors of life... more than anything it reminds me that health is #1 - if you don't feel good the rest of it doesn't really matter...
I want to be healthy again and I'm not... this has got to change!

January 19, 2020 ~~~ Another year, another decade ending and beginning... I want so much... but do I really want to work for what I want? That's the question I am asking myself this evening and the answer is important. I have done "this" for so long that it is time I ask myself "Why?" I vacillate between contentment & disenchantment. Yin and Yang. Light and Dark.
Maybe it's time I step back and actually decide what I'm going to focus on instead of trying to do everything I'm "supposed" to do? I have an open road ahead of me and no one to hold me back... my family and friends have always been supportive of my choices when they were healthy.
I need to take some time and meander through my life - remember who I am, who I used to be... regain my footing and renew my 20/20 vision.

December 9th... so much to learn, so much to do...

November 4th 2019... the year is speeding to its conclusion and there is so much I wanted to accomplish that just seemed to fall apart during the 2nd half of this year. Finances, Fitness, Diet, Work... all of it more tenuous now than it was just 6-months ago.
I learned once again that I can slip off the rails and into the muck if I am not conscious of my choices and attitudes.
I wish I didn't have to learn these lessons over & over again. But the end of 2019 and during the year of 2020 it will be one of those "two steps forward, one step back" periods in my life... I am not throwing in the towel just yet - but I really do have to start paying better attention to what the universe and my "self" is telling me. Tenacity might become my best friend...

October 22nd... we are now one month into Autumn and the world is ablaze in color. This has always been my favorite season. My spirit soars as the weather turns crisp. I am at the starting gate for a number of life changes and want to finish 2019 on a strong positive note.

August 17th... WOW - it's been almost three months since I added anything to my page... but it's been a hectic and very interesting summer. Things turned out very different than I had planned - but I need a little more time to process it all before I can set it down in pixels...

May 19th 2019 -- Although yesterday was a terrible day for calories my weight has remained stable. I’m still in the mid-150s. As long as I don’t backtrack into gaining weight, the occasional stasis isn’t quite as bad. I am grateful, in fact, that I am learning to let me body stay put sometimes. It’s a very hard lesson for me but at the heart of these last two years of weight management. Two years ago at this time I was laid up after surgery and this latest journey was fully underway as I was gaining weight almost every week. I reached a high of 166.1-pounds in January of 2018, up from a low of 136.4-pounds in February of 2017. Since then I’ve gone through all sorts of conniption fits about my weight. Slowly, though I began to realize that I was maintaining my weight, albeit at a level too high for my ego, with little stress if I just didn’t think about it so much.
For decades I was the diet princess – I could lose weight on almost any crazy plan, but keeping that weight off was damned near impossible. I would be okay for a short while, sometimes even a few months, but then the weight would pile back on far more quickly than it went off. While looking at my pictures over my life I came to the conclusion that I had become the great “accordion” woman – alternately expanding and contracting through the decades. I wanted off that merry-go-round. I started back on this trek in June of 2008, weighing right around 230-pounds, The first step was to return to the gym – the YMCA to be exact – and I became a “gym rat” even before I started to address my eating.
I joined SparkPeople on November 18th 2008 and by that time was just above 200-pounds. It’s been a rocky road sometimes but I know that having this site in my arsenal went a long way towards changing how I look at the whole diet-and-exercise thing. I’ve gotten better at maintenance and lazier at losing. And as I’ve gotten older my body is not as adept at simply shedding the weight everytime I eat a few hundred calories under my maximum. But I am still learning – and I might add getting better – especially at just picking myself up and getting going again after I fail. No more throwing in the towel for months/years at a time.

May 10th... Today was a good day. I've had quite a few of those lately... despite the fact that my bronchitis simply refuses to leave completely. And my heart is full of gratitude... for the loves of my life, for being a mother, for my apartment and the freedom I have forged for myself, for my job that lifts my spirits and reminds me everytime I go that I am more than just somebody's______. And for SparkPeople, and the chance to reach out to others that are also on their journey of self-discovery and so can appreciate mine. There may still be much to complete in my life, but I am especially grateful for the journey...
I know there are times when I get really down on myself, down about all the things I don't have, can't do at the moment, didn't do as well as I had thought I would or could... but for right now - this moment - the world and I are golden.

April 17th... 2019 -- In my cupboard I still have full bottles of It Works! Advanced Formula Fat Fighter™ and It Works! Ultimate ThermoFit™ as well as It Works! Greens™ which together are billed as the Triple Threat. I have been wondering about these products of late and since I already own them am thinking of trying them out – together – in something of a personal experiment for say a period of a month to see if they or any one of them actually do anything. I also have a small sampling of THRIVE Experience | Le-Vel® products, including some of their patches and have also wondered aloud how and if these work. Now I’m no fool but I am curious. Since I have far fewer of these products I would probably start with them.
This whole idea was rekindled by a photograph Dean took of me yesterday that really disgusted me… I look awful – not at all like the generally decent, actually pretty, overweight woman I thought I was. It shocked me into realizing that I am far from done because I just shouldn’t look like that when I am seated and not fully dressed. I have bitched and moaned about not losing weight ad nauseum, but I didn’t think I looked that bad since I settled in the high 150s/low 160s. But that picture spoke volumes and none of it was flattering. And while others have called me everything including “tiny” that was definitely NOT what I saw on that picture.

April 1st... I came to a realization as I was completing logging yesterday’s food intake on my tracker that I have set my caloric scale to go from 1200-1950 calories because that’s the range between my losing weight quickly and my maintaining my weight at its current level. I did this quite unconsciously. But it does give me an insight as to how I’ve been able to maintain my weight with so little fuss. Something inside of me makes the decision every day – “do I want to lose weight today, or just stay where I am?” How I eat that day then reflects my choice. I have been blogging forever now about how I want to get back to 136.4-pounds, but the truth is that on a daily basis, this is what has been going on underneath all that angst.
Do I still want to lose that weight? Most days… I guess not, or I would make choices that reflect this goal. But on other days I do, and now I’ve discovered within my very own process the tool to make that happen. What a revelation! It certainly explains how I’ve lost the first 10-pounds toward that goal (off my highest post-surgery weight). I am about 20-pounds away from that 1st goal (my eventual goal is to weigh about 129-pounds) on a daily basis – with minor fluctuations happening all the time.
Gaining any more weight is absolutely NOT an option I leave open for myself. My body appreciates the work I’ve done and rewards me with incredibly good health despite the fact that I have underlying autoimmune disorders and I smoke. Lately I’ve had all sorts of tests and procedures and incredibly I‘ve managed to keep myself in a condition that still allows me immense control over how I feel. For that I am both proud and extremely blessed. And at the end of the day also phenomenally excited because I now understand that the power – most all of it – does reside within me to change my world.

February 28th... the last day of February 2019... time to think about what I want for myself over these next 6-months until I turn 62. I am starting this period of my life in the low 160s and I know I want more than anything to be at my driver's license weight of 145 (or lower) when I renew it on my birthday this year. But I am completely unsure of how to accomplish this. This time around, nothing seems to really capture my motivation.
I am also approaching my 4-year work anniversary (April 14th). I know I want to stay on at least until I make my 5-years at OfficeMax... but where there? This year I am diligently working on my "getting debt-free" plan however I also want to travel... really go somewhere I've never been before... try something new...

February 12th... Our area of the country has really been nailed lately by snow storms and ice storms... making any kind of a long walk very difficult. Still I am lucky to have a job that keeps me on my feet for the entire shift (I work retail).
I am still experimenting with different ways of eating however I am 99% sure that however I structure my diet, not eating anything heavy in the hours before I go to bed seems to make the biggest difference with how well what I'm doing translates to the scale and the fit of my clothes.
My body has made it very clear that the "cleaner" I eat the majority of the time, the happier it is - even my IBS is easier to control. I want to come out of this year better than I went in... however that manifests itself.

January 8th 2019... the first week of the New Year is finished and I've accomplished a lot. I'm learning about meal-prepping, continuing to work on becoming debt-free, getting in touch with my doctors to get the check-up, tests, and medications I need to be at my best. I've caught up on organizing and have started purging extraneous "stuff" from my life. Still not logging, but I'm keeping watch and I will work on beginning that process again very soon. Still enjoying the freedom from counting... and I'm holding fairly steady in weight.
On January 6th I weighed 164.5-pounds and I changed my weight on both SparkPeople & FitBit. I want to begin this year spot-on honest about my weight – both the good & the bad… In fact I want to become more rigorously honest in all my endeavors. Especially anything that pertains to my progress in one of the many journeys I have set myself upon. I have allowed myself too much wiggle room in these matters and it has detracted from my joy whenever there is a victory to celebrate or a failure to learn from… and I don’t want to do that anymore… There’s no pleasure left in “getting away with it” when it’s me I’m trying to cheat or hoodwink.
It's not the best solution, but for right now a good one. I'm doing more journaling and getting a lot more honest and open in what I write (don't ask me why I've censored myself there... I'm not sure) but the more honest I am becoming in my life the more I'm getting ready for a fitness push.
Not sure where this year will take me, but I'm definitely in my life in a more involved and introspective way and it's producing results. I am holding myself to my promises in other areas of my life until I can get this weight loss/tracking/fitness thing off the ground. I know keeping in touch here on SparkPeople - even in a less detailed way by not logging my food, is essential to where I want to be and where I want to go...

Member Since: 11/18/2008

Fitness Minutes: 419,954

My Goals:
Get to a HEALTHY, ACTIVE weight that's right for me...right now I'm thinking about 129 lbs!
Be debt free by September 2020
Become comfortable logging my food intake without getting obsessive.

My Program:
taking the time to explore different ways of eating - clean eating, flexitarian, KETO... looking for the right program for me.
learn some new fitness routines in 2019... maybe finally find a way back to the gym that I can afford
in the meantime - WALK! WALK! WALK! and now with my FitBit Alta HR, track those steps!

Personal Information:
Gabi Ruszczak
Rockford, IL

Born in Germany, grew up in Chicago, now a 28-year resident of Rockford, IL.
Widowed after being married 30 years, 3 sons - Stephan, 36-1/2; Christopher 35; Erich 32
One grandson - Jackson (4-1/2)
Part-Time Tech Specialist at OfficeMax, Rockford, IL

Other Information:
Living with Degenerative Arthritis, IBS, and Fibromyalgia and the possibility of having Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (or some sort of AutoImmune syndrome)

B.S. Alumna Northern Illinois University - Cognitive/Clinical Psychology Major - Anthropology Minor, LGBT Studies Certificate
LGBTransQ+ Ally

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  • v WILDKAT781
    Hope you are having a good day!!!!
    245 days ago
    Sending some Christmas cheer. May yours be Merry and Bright! ♥

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    583 days ago
    emoticon emoticon Happy Saturday, Enjoy! emoticon emoticon
    990 days ago
    Looking to stay focused through the upcoming Holiday Season? Want to get connected with a Team to support you through your Journey to a Healthier Lifestyle? If yes, then consider joining the BL Challenge that starts early December. Each week 11 teams of 24 Active, do fun nutritional and fitness challenges. The challenges promote a healthy lifestyle and If for some reason you cannot do a challenge then they are modified to meet your needs. Often we do the challenge in a game form, we have BINGO and TIC TAC TOE or seasonally themed. For the Fall we had Cardio Hoedown, World Series and Sleepathon. I hope that you decide this might be for you you can leave your name on the waitlist for the Winter challenge. To get to the Challenge go to my page and click on the “BLUE BIGGEST LOSER” Icon, or copy and paste the link below, or let me know and I can send you an invite. Join the Team then sign up on the waitlist. It’s the thread right below the Chit Chat.
    995 days ago
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    Hello Sunshine! Let’s choose moments filled with happiness and set out to have a successful week!
    1129 days ago
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