Our guest today is Gwendolyn Kasnoff. This woman is all smiles. She radiates her philosophy of choosing happiness. I’m grateful that I could meet her and hear her story. She learned to be kind to herself as she navigated how to become healthy. This post is a real gem, enjoy.
I’m living proof that your highs are as high, as your lows are low. Mine is a journey from deepest, darkest despair to living the happiest days of my life. I’ve lost 85 pounds and have transformed from a morbidly obese, inactive wife and mother into “one of those” who enjoys working my body, sweating, and smiles way too much! But the physical manifestation pales to the mental shift that took place inside my pointy head. While my body shrunk from a size 24 to an 8, it took my brain on an incredible learning experience. The end result was freedom from the negative thoughts and actions that create a perpetual cycle of depression and hopelessness.
My lows began with the diagnosis and eventual death of my son, five years ago. He was five when he succumbed to brain cancer. I woke each day to a black cave of emptiness, sadness, loneliness, and excruciating pain. I had every reason to drink to excess each afternoon and I did. I hit my rock bottom during one of my daughter’s play therapy sessions. She threw toy milk bottles across the office crying, “I hate beer! I hate wine!” My daughter deserves the best. Out of humiliation and a mother’s desire to do right by her daughter, I choose to get happy.
Happy to me meant getting fit, healthy, and whole. The biggest obstacle in my journey to joy was the practice of patience and kindness with myself. I can be kind and gentle with everyone else it seems. The challenge was to stop the negative “shoulds,” “coulds,” and “woulds” that kept me feeling unworthy of life’s true pleasures and everyday joys. I changed my focus. Obstacles became challenges. I “can’ts” became, “I haven’t learned that yet”. Criticisms transformed from personal attacks to words of kindness and care. I sought out others living happy lives and let the downers go.
While the mind work is key and has instant results, the body work is a journey that I’m still on. Food has always meant more to me than simple nutrition. I believe food is my soulmate. We were meant to be together. Good food though. Luckily the definition of “good food” has changed for me. I’ve gone from chicken fried steak to chicken spinach salad. I consider myself a professional dieter. I have been on a diet since the age of twelve and know how to gain and lose weight. My problem is maintaining the weight loss for any significant period of time.
I joined a local, big-box gym and walked into my first boot camp class at 253 pounds. I was the biggest one in the class! Instead of feeling embarrassed or humiliated about the state I had let myself get into; I felt proud. I was there-moving and sweating! My words and actions matched! I understand how hard it is to move from inaction and wanting (insert goal here) and then starting the actual movement required to get what you want. It takes courage to put on spandex and enter a building full of fit, toned bodies. I made a plan to exercise and it meant getting up early and making up for the lost time. I HAD to be as important as my clients, friends, and family. How could I take care of them without taking care of me? Flipping that mental switch freed me from guilt, fear and any excuse I could create to not make the next class.
These days I’m enjoying my new body and new mind. I smile and hug more than ever and have learned that it is much easier to be happy when you are happy and vice versa! Over a year ago I found out I was no longer a candidate for heart disease. I left the morbidly obese AND obese classification (based on body fat percentages) in 2012! My motto is, “anything is better with endorphins!” So go out and find your path to your health and happiness. It’s out there for the taking, if you THINK about it!
Gwendolyn is the owner of OfficeGirl, LLC: Denver’s Administrative Concierge. She is also the Office Manager and trainer-in-training at Bonza Bodies Fitness.