Michelene Cleary

SparkPeople Member

Michelene is a small business owner who does consulting/negotiating with managed-care companies on behalf of medical facilities. She has a bachelor's in Business Administration from Hardin-Simmons University and is an ACE-certified personal trainer.

She tries to balance her job, marriage, three teenagers, one dog and two cats all while maintaining a more than 90-pound weight loss. Michelene blogs about the trials and tribulations of weight management in the midst of a chaotic life and wants to encourage others who are afraid they can't maintain a healthy lifestyle.

In 2011, she completed her first half marathon, her first mud run, and more than a dozen races total. She is a foodie, a self-proclaimed movie critic, and fitness enthusiast. Her biggest challenge in 2011 has been maintaining her weight loss while undergoing and recovering from a major shoulder surgery.


Read More of Michelene's Blogs:

Never Fear Another Workout, No Matter How Fit (or Fat) You Are


I think as a society we’ve done ourselves a disservice with this customer-friendly question: How are you today? 

Recently I was going through a drive thru picking up something for my son when the young girl opened the window, smiled, and asked me how I was. 

Really?  I don’t know you and you’ve got 30 seconds to give me the food and send me on my way.  Am I really going to tell you how I am?  So I gave her the standard “fine, thank you” answer, even though that wasn’t really the truth that day.

What would have happened the first time I met my personal trainer two years ago if I had answered that question honestly?  It would have gone something like this:

  • Hi, I’m Mitchell.  How are you today?
  • Hi Mitchell.  I’m Michelene and I’m nervous, scared, embarrassed and angry!  I’m freaking out about stepping on the scale in front of you.  I think I may throw up!  I’m afraid that I won’t do the exercises right and you’ll judge me.  You’re probably judging me already because I need to lose 50 pounds.  Is everyone staring at me?  I feel like they are staring.  I don’t know if I even belong here.  Can I close my eyes while you measure my thighs? 
Can you imagine his response to that?  I could go on, but I think you get my drift.  Do you relate to having any of those feelings about being in the gym?

Part of my mission as a blogger here on the dailySpark is to share what's it feels like to maintain a large weight loss.  One of the reasons I feel like I am successful at maintaining is because exercise has been a routine part of my life the last three years.  Is it part of yours?

Posted 2/9/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 57 comments   22,664 views

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Project Inspiration: Fight Bad Moods with Creativity

"You can't change what was in the past…not by worrying about it, complaining about it, dwelling in it.  You also can't build the future.  You can impact the now…today….this moment.  By impacting your now, you have the best possibility of impacting your future." ~Author Unknown

That quotation routinely brings me back to thinking about living in the now, the present moment, and making the most of it:

For me, part of trying to live a life of successful maintenance has to be based on understanding what I can truly impact.  Can I impact the consequences of my food choices yesterday?  No, not really.  Those calories are already in my body.  Does wasting the day away regretting, fretting, or languishing in a downer mood help?  No!  If I do drop into one of those moods, and I'm sure you know the one I'm talking about, I'm thankful for one of my teenage daughters.  She'll remind me not to be a "Debbie Downer."  That's a name she got from a Saturday Night Live skit where Debbie is always focusing on the negative no matter what else is going on.  She will remind me that I've told her that in any given moment you can choose to change your mood and your mindset, and that I'm not allowed to disregard my own advice.  I think I might have to set up a text code with her for when she goes off to college.  I'll send her #DDM for Debbie Downer Mood, and she'll help me out of it!

Posted 2/2/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 25 comments   16,577 views

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Worried about Weight Loss? The Rx: A Big Chill Pill

One of my favorite combo words to use is chillax – a combination of chill and relax

From time to time, my husband and I will use the phrase "chill out, Holmes."  I’m not sure how we came up with that or why we say Holmes, but the intent is certain: take a big breath and calm down.  If you feel like you’re standing at the base of an overwhelming mountain trying to figure out how to get to the fit and healthy summit, then this message is for you.

I know that the information overload can sometimes seem insurmountable.  I follow quite a few fit bloggers and professional fitness sites and see it every day.  Try this diet, no this diet, no wait this exercise format, but wait this one is the latest and greatest.  All are trying to tell you how to journey up that mountain in as few, easy steps as possible.  My experience with traveling to the summit is that it takes one step at a time and no journey is the same.  Allow yourself some space, breath, and peace to know that despite all the swirling piles of information, you can make this work.

I like to use me and my best friend as an example.  Combined we’ve lost more than 170 pounds, or as I like to refer to it, one or two Hollywood actresses.  We have met up on the mountain many times, but we both certainly travel our own path on a day-to-day basis.  Together last year we ran 5Ks and from time to time rode our bikes around a large lake, but other than that we varied in how we accomplished our goals.  Both of us included different weight routines, different forms of cardio/sports, different diets, etc.  The end result though was the same – working to maintain weight loss and improve physical fitness, all the while having fun and supporting each other wholeheartedly.

Susie shares on her SparkPage that she struggles with compulsive eating and started her journey with surgery.  I accomplished my weight loss without surgery and needed to learn portion control.  One is not better than the other – we needed different starting points to help us in our journey.  Susie pitched in a softball league this year and her team won the championship.  I can’t pitch or catch to save my life!  I ran my first half marathon, and that wasn’t on her agenda.    But like the supportive trouper that she is, she got up early to drive me to my race and took pictures.  I like yoga and Zumba, and she likes running on the treadmill and basketball.  You get my drift, I’m sure.  We are different, our bodies respond differently, and our tastes are different. 

Here are a few things we both know to be true in order to reach that summit:

Posted 1/26/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Michelene Cleary : 50 comments   23,186 views

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Fun Fitness and Long Term Goals – My Virtual Journey

Are you one of those people that find it boring to exercise?  Do you get tired of logging miles on the dreadmill or the elliptical?  Wondering how you can keep yourself going for the long term?

Awhile back I decided I needed something fun to keep me going.  I needed a goal that would make tracking all those fitness miles interesting.  I chose to start a Virtual Journey.  It wasn’t hard for me or some of my Twilight Challenge team members to make that choice.  I started a message board for our team, and the challenge to track your fitness miles on a virtual trip to Forks, Washington, began.  (For those of you who haven't read Twilight, the main setting for the four books is a small town in Washington.) 

I determined that it would be 2,262 miles from my front door to the Forks High School, and my tracking began.  At the time of writing this blog, I’ve have tracked 1,432 miles. I’ve blogged along the way about states I would be in if I were really running or riding my bike, and what I would do there.  It helps me stay on track to know that there are others doing the trip with me from wherever they are. 

I’m setting up a plan now to make sure I reach my destination before the last movie comes out on November 16, 2012.  Starting January 1, I’ll need to complete 2.5 miles a day throughout the course of the year to reach my goal by the release date.   When you break it down like that it doesn’t seem so intimidating does it?

Posted 1/19/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 34 comments   18,460 views

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Improvement Begins with I

Improvement……we all want it but how do we get there?  When I first started on SparkPeople over two years ago I was seeking a lot of personal improvement.  The word itself tells us where to start – with “I”.  Then if we add a few more letters to the word we get I’m..PROVing..what I MEaNTTo me that word speaks the truth that we need to start with ourselves and then prove what we’ve decided to do, day in and day out to get the results that we want to attain.

Quite frequently where we lose our way, or lose our hope is on the days where we don’t quite live up to our expectations.  We deviate from our plan and then convince ourselves that we failed.  Then what happens? 

I follow a blogger named Mastin Kipp, and he writes for The Daily Love.  I liked what he wrote recently about handling failure when he said, “It allows us to see that there really is no such thing as failure – that all you are doing is producing a result. And what you do with that result will greatly determine that outcome, far greater than any other force.”

Posted 1/12/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 48 comments   19,245 views

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Scale Haters Unite!

By now you’ve been working on your New Year’s resolutions for roughly four weeks.  Have you stepped on the scale this week only to be discouraged, frustrated, angry, sad, or some other combination of negative emotions?  You’re not alone!  Before you give up or quit, let’s discuss some options.  Do you really want this year to end up like last year and the years before?  Do you want to quit on your resolutions because a piece of equipment told you that you weren’t doing well?

I have a history of writing blogs that are essentially rants on the scale.  In my humble opinion, it should play a minor role in determining whether or not you’re achieving your healthy lifestyle goals. (I'm not the only one who feels this way! Read ~INDYGIRL's blogs 10 Signs You are Getting Healthier Even if the Scale Doesn't Move and Lighten Up about Weighing In, too.) If the scale should be designated as minor bench player, who should the star players be?

Posted 1/5/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 40 comments   24,059 views

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Nutrients vs. 'Putrients' – What’s on Your Plate?

Well I’ve finally done it – joined the multitude who seem intent on meshing words together to come up with their own thing.  I’m sure at least one of my English teachers of the past is now rolling her eyes.

So what is a "putrient" anyway, and what does this have to do with keeping weight off?  I think it has everything to do with it.  Frequently people will stop by my SparkPage and ask me how I’ve lost all the weight, and how do I stay off the Yo-Yo dieting cycle.  Nutrients vs. Putrients is one of my answers.

It all comes down to what you are putting on your plate on a day-to-day basis. A putrient to me is one of the putrid ingredients that we eat because food marketers have convinced us it is food, but really it is not nutritious at all.  This was all reinforced for me recently when I was reviewing some information for for my personal trainer certification.  I was studying an article about the impact of obesity on our brain and it linked to a YouTube video called “Sugar: The Bitter Truth," by Dr. Robert Lustig, M.D. 

In it were some facts that I thought were stunning.  By drinking one regular soda a day for a year, you can add 16 pounds to your body.  Drinking one Big Gulp a day can add up to 47 pounds.  It is stark when you look at the long-term impact.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a proponent of abstaining from everything you love for the rest of your life.  I do believe in and practice moderation to include some foods that I love that shouldn’t be on my menu every day.  On the other side of that question though is what are you eating on a regular basis that you don’t think is really that bad, but if you calculated the impact out over a year would be something that you need to stop putting on your routine list?

Posted 12/29/2011  6:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 21 comments   15,019 views

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5 Easy Steps to Perfection


Five easy steps to perfection. if I could really do that and teach you how to do that, then we would live in a perfect world wouldn’t we?  If perfection is rarely if ever attainable, why do we berate ourselves so much when we make a “mistake” in our healthy lifestyle journey?
As we rush toward the end of the year and start thinking about our goals for 2012, I’d like to talk to you about reframing your expectations so that you are liberated to make it the best year ever.  Let’s consider some of the world’s top athletes for a moment, and how they think in order to be successful.

Posted 12/22/2011  6:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 20 comments   12,686 views

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Make Good Choices--Even away from Home

Do you remember the scene in The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy is walking through the forest and the mean, angry trees start throwing apples at her?  Sometimes I feel like I’m in that scene when I drive near my house.

One time when I came out of my gym, I counted how many places there are to buy food within a half mile drive in any one of the four directions from that intersection.  At the time there were 33. When I drive through that intersection, I feel like I could have burgers, tacos, burritos, pizza, and egg rolls flying in my direction by mean fast food eateries.  I consider it a good day when I leave the gym and the wind is blowing in the right direction so that I’m not slammed in the face by the smell of cheeseburgers cooking on the grill.

As you’re out doing your last minute holiday shopping and find yourself hungry and assaulted by the smell of those awesome cinnamon rolls in the mall, the temptation of the quick drive through with the 1,000 calorie meal – the list of temptations could go on.  What do you do?  What are your options?  Stop for a brief moment and think about what your options are in the area where you will be.

Posted 12/15/2011  6:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 29 comments   20,488 views

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I Can--Can You?

I Can’t is a cloak that failure wears.  It’s actually one of failure's favorite outfits, as a matter of fact.  It’s the first thing failure pulls out in the morning when the alarm goes off.  It starts something like this:

"I can’t get up!  I’m too tired, it’s too cold, too dark, too early!  I’m too sore, too old for this!  I don’t have energy.  I didn’t sleep enough. The blankets are so warm, the pillow so soft.  I Can’t do this!" So you hit the snooze button and skip another workout.  Failure wins that battle.

Once you do get up, the war begins anew with reminders of how you messed up on things already.  Failure whispers, “You didn’t eat well yesterday – what’s one more day?  You can always start over tomorrow, or next week.  You don’t have time to fix a healthy breakfast.  You can drive thru XYZ and pick up that cinnamon roll you love.” 
Failure lies and tells you this will make you feel better.

Posted 12/8/2011  10:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 51 comments   17,291 views

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Dream A Better Dream

When I was contacted by SparkPeople and asked to write about the trials and tribulations of weight loss maintenance, I immediately wrote back and asked Stepfanie how she knew that I had three teenagers in high school?  Tool number 1 for keeping off the weight – a good sense of humor helps!

I’d like to start out by telling you some of my weight loss history and talking to you about your dreams for yours. 

I realized one day at work when I had trouble walking up three flights of stairs after a fire drill that I was in terrible shape.  That same week I was approached by four brave souls who asked me to join a "Biggest Loser" contest.  At first I was stunned, but I now look back in extreme gratitude that friends would step out in intervention to help me.

My dream at that time was just to lose 20 pounds.  I never dreamed I’d lose 95 pounds and keep it off.  My dream was small, but I was committed to it.  I wrote on the memo of my check for the competition “The Winner.”  I was so confident that I could lose that 20 pounds, and I did--and I won.  The second time around I wasn’t such a good dreamer.  I entered but didn’t believe I could win, and I didn’t.  But the good news was that I continued to lose and workout.

Posted 12/1/2011  6:00:00 PM By: Michelene Cleary : 75 comments   22,224 views

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Selective Hearing: Turn it On

Back in my high school days I was a long distance competitive swimmer and participated on my school team, as well as the city team. During those four years of swimming I put in countless thousands of laps, hours upon hours of training, but never fully mastered one stroke.

On one occasion I remember my coach having the entire team get out of the pool so they could stand there and watch me swim the butterfly stroke. He wanted to teach them how not to do it. Talk about utter humiliation. Eventually I graduated and moved on, finishing as captain of the team and successful in some distance events that others wouldn’t dream of swimming. Always in the back of my mind though, was the fact that for some reason I couldn’t master the butterfly stroke.

Fast forward three years into college and I met a friend who also was a high school swimmer that specialized in the butterfly stroke. I was quick to tell him how horrible I was at it and that I would never be able to do that stroke correctly. He gave me the “pffft” noise and said “get in the pool, and I’ll show you how to do it.” Within 30 minutes he had me swimming a great butterfly stroke, up and down the pool. How did that happen? 

Posted 11/10/2011  10:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 46 comments   17,589 views

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Life on the Balance Beam

I’ve often watched the young female gymnasts in competition in a state of awe and wonder. How do they do all those jumps and twirls on the balance beam without falling off and make it look so easy in the process? The precision, the focus, the leap in the face of fear mentality – how do I get some of that?

Maybe that routine on the balance beam is like the healthy lifestyle to you. Some days there seems to be no balance and you can’t get all the things in order to make it work. You’re juggling the job, the family, the pets, the bills, the laundry, the housework, the yard work, or some combination of all those things and more. How are you supposed to fit in exercise, healthy grocery shopping, time to prep and cook meals, plan meals for the next day or week? It’s daunting, frustrating, and frankly you might just want to give up.  Well don’t.

The thing about those gymnasts on TV is they didn’t show up at the training facility yesterday and jump into competition today. They started their journey at the beginning and worked a very long time to get where they are. I appreciate this more now that I’ve been on the healthy lifestyle journey for three years (2 on SparkPeople). I had to start at the beginning, work it out, and keep figuring out how to make it work for me through life while it changed from day to day, month to month, and year to year.

Posted 9/23/2011  8:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 80 comments   38,917 views

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Your Words: Weights or Wings?

Do your words help or hinder you with your healthy lifestyle goals? 

I was pondering this recently when driving my teenage daughter and some of her friends around.  One of the girls started to get out the car and said, “Let me see if I can get my fat butt out of here.” I was momentarily speechless because this girl is thin and doesn’t need to lose a pound. I said to her, “you’re not overweight, don’t say that about yourself.” She continued to reply that oh yes she was.
 
It struck me at that moment that sometimes we are our own worst enemy and critic. We can either build ourselves up with encouragement and motivational thoughts, or tear ourselves apart for a perceived failure or mistake that limits our ability to move forward. If you took the challenge to write down your thoughts about yourself for a couple of days, what kind of story would it tell? Do you say things about yourself that you wouldn’t say out loud to a friend?

Posted 8/19/2011  10:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 74 comments   23,622 views

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