Three months after Ann Lovell's brother-in-law died from a short battle with Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Ann decided that it was time for her to start living.
First, she rearranged the furniture in her living room. It was amazing how something so simple could give her a new feeling of accomplishment. She adopted a new, positive attitude by creating a habit of counting five things to be thankful for each day. And then she tackled the biggest change of all: shedding 238 pounds.
"My brother-in-law, Dick, was a joyful, funny guy, but he became even more so after he was diagnosed with ALS," said Ann. "He taught me how important a positive attitude is. It didn't matter how much he lost as the ALS progressed, he had a positive attitude. He was not afraid to die, he wanted to live every ounce of his life. By how he died, he taught me how to live."
Ann felt Dick's spirit inside of her, spurring her on. I'm going to change my life, she said. She was tired of carrying 387 pounds on her 5' 5' frame, and hauling around an oxygen tank. She came across an ad for Jenny Craig and marched herself into the local center. This was back in December of 2005. She learned to change her eating habits and the weight began to come off. She added walking to her regimen as well.
Ann has kept the weight off and continues to follow the Jenny Craig program. She recently found herself falling off the wagon of healthy eating and exercising and recommitted herself again. She signed up for boot camp and to her amazement, she accomplished more than she imagined she could.
Ann and I met through the Association of Late-Deafened Adults and we discovered we had a lot in common. We both shared a journey of hearing loss; we both began to lose our hearing early in life, becoming deaf along the way. Both of us were featured on AOL That's Fit:
My life was also touched by ALS when my best friend's father, Don, battled it for five years. Like Dick, Don never stopped living. He was the mayor of our small town and when he could no longer leave the house, he moved the board meetings into his home.
Every year, Ann's family participates in the walk for ALS in Dick's memory. Every year, they don a shirt that says:
"Choose each day to be happy and to do good."
Ann Lovell blogs at: Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks