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      Misty Marshall: Confidence and Comfort Zones

      Misty celebrates Valentine's Day with her family

      Greetings to my favorite audience at 7&4! Hope everyone is having a fantastic week. This week is all about the loveâ?| So, first I must say Happy Valentineâ??s Day to the love of my life, my David! We have been married for seven years and I can honestly say he is my best friend! He has unconditionally loved me through thick and thin and continues to stand by my side through this journey. I am very blessed that I have him as my life partner. Thanks babe, cheers to many more years of happiness together!

      I want to say to all the happy couples out there, celebrate your love because a great partner in life is a blessing from above. Andâ?|to my mother, that is celebrating her first Valentineâ??s Day without my daddy, I love you! I remember many Valentineâ??s Days where dad bought you flowers, bears, and lovely chocolates. He was an amazing man, my first Valentine!

      Ok, now that the mushy stuff is over, let us get down to business. This week I have thought long and hard about how to inspire people and this statement came to mind â??Beauty is only skin deep, but confidence is beyond measureâ??. I can honestly say that I am learning this lesson through this journey and it is sinking in slowly.

      As an obese person it is very hard to vision yourself as beautiful. I have heard many statements that often hurt more than help. Statements like â??You have such a beautiful faceâ??, â??You are so intelligent, if only you could lose weightâ??, and â??Your have a good personalityâ??. These statements are made in an effort to try to boost an individualâ??s confidence but I can speak from experience that these words feel like a sign that is placed on your back that is labeled with the words â??My weight makes me less of a personâ??.

      I have struggled with my self-image for as long as I can remember. Sometimes I have let this self-image problem hold me back from doing things that I have wanted to do. An example of this is singing. I have loved to sing probably since I could talk. I think this passion was handed down to me from my father who also had a love for singing. I sang off and on throughout high school and at church a few times. I briefly sang in the choir in middle school but I was never able to get the courage to develop my talents. What held me back, lack of Confidence!

      Another example is college. While I did eventually go back to college and finish my Bachelorâ??s Degree I struggled for many years at jobs I hated because I underestimated my abilities. I didnâ??t want to meet new people, develop new skills or even try new things because I was too afraid to failâ?|what lacked? Confidence in my abilities!

      There are so many examples that I can think of within my lifetime that are situations in which I lacked the confidence within myself to be successful, but I am happy to say things are changing, and although my weight is slimming, I can honestly say that this newfound confidence goes beyond a change is pant size!

      One of the biggest lessons throughout this journey that I have learned is that I am worth the effort it is going to take to make this journey a success. This being said, I can now talk about how I have learned to begin developing confidence in myself.

      Letâ??s talk about comfort zones for a minuteâ?|

      When I speak of comfort zones people may think of experiences in which they feel safe but the problem with this is if we always stay in our comfort zone we lack the ability to do new things; therefore, I have found that the key to developing confidence is to lose the comfort zone!

      Let me be the first to tell you this is not easy. The first time I stepped into the gym at Baker College with my friend Danette I was not walking into a comfort zone! I felt for many times at the gym like I was a fish out of water, a second wheel on a unicycle, the fifth Beatle. It was not feeling trouble-free when I was watching athletes lifting heavy weights, doing sit-ups, pull-ups and every other kind of â??upsâ?? when I was struggling to keep the pedals moving on an exercise bike. It was intimidating to look at the runners as they had the treadmill moving fast while I was standing on the edge gasping for a breath. I was not in a moment of tranquility while sweat was pouring down my face after four minutes on the elliptical machine! Standing in front of athletes who were not struggling with obesity in a mirror filled gym I felt a bit out of place, but for the first time in my life I didnâ??t let my lack of self-confidence prejudge my abilities.

      Slowly, as I continued to press on at the gym I started developing a sense of pride within myself knowing that I was mastering skills that I thought I would never be able to do. I remember a sermon illustration that my dad used involving a chair. He asked for a parishioner to come forward and sit in a chair, there were two choices in chairs, one was an old broken down chair missing screws and nails and one was a folding chair very structurally sound. I do not remember one incident of him using this illustration in which someone chose the broken chair, why is that? Not one person had confidence in the broken chair to hold them!

      Often we view our own self-confidence as the broken chair when in all reality our potential is sitting right next to the broken chair in the form of a more sturdy choice. As we move from our comfort zones into a new experience the symbolism of that broken chair becomes less evident in the background until eventually itâ??s no longer a choice. This is when we develop the courage we need to achieve success in lifeâ??s journey!

      Last weekend I did a few things that took me out of my comfort zone. First, I went to a charity event for a fabulous organization where I knew there would be new people I havenâ??t met. Second, I wore a dress to said event which is nearly the first dress I have had on myself since I married my David seven years ago, third, I did a photo shoot with my favorite photographer, a great friend from college in an effort to celebrate my progress. By Monday morning I was feeling quite low on courage but when I looked back, I realized that the farther I get from that â??broken chairâ?? the closer I get to confidently conquering my battle with low self-esteem, shattered dreams, and feeling inferior.

      Bringing this down to a life lesson for this week letâ??s re-examine the statement â??Beauty is only skin deep, but confidence is beyond measureâ??. You can be as beautiful as Ms. America, as gorgeous as the most attractive super-model, or for you gentlemen as appealing as the most handsome of silver foxes but if you lack confidence you are bound and determined to remain stuck in the same pattern for the rest of your life.

      This weekâ??s assignment, how can you step out of your comfort zone? Can you find enough confidence in your ability to move from the same old broken chair to one that is much more exciting? This may take some effort and whether your journey is weight loss like mine or some other form of battle; I have confidence in you that you will come along with me as we both hop out of our comfort zones into new experiences in life making our dreams a reality.

      Remember alwaysâ?|the sky is the limit!

      Confidently confident,