Sorry It’s taken so long to post my introduction! I didn’t realize it had been TWO WEEKS since my sister, Mea, told you guys I’d be moving to NJ and co-writing her blog! My name is Ashley Patterson (full name: Ashley Rachel Cerciello Patterson 😉) and here’s a little bit about me and my background:
Firstly, I chose this picture because exactly 10 years ago today, that was me.
16 year old Ashley. Wearing my comfortably-worn-out Led Zeppelin t-shirt and jeans (my usual outfit) at 177 pounds; mostly happy but very unhealthy. I started to get into photography and I had been playing the drums for about 3 years at that point.
It wasn’t until 2008 when I went to the University of the Arts in Philly to get a BFA in Photography that I gained another 5 pounds. At the end of year I realized being 5’4″ and 182 pounds was not okay, not healthy, and not working out for me.
I wanted to be thinner, healthier, confident.
I took that jobless summer back in NJ and worked out every day. I went to a nutritionist (as Mea was still in High School and figuring out what she wanted to do!) and started my lifestyle change – NOT “diet” – and lost almost 20 pounds in those 2-3 months. I transferred out of UArts in 2009 and went to St. John’s, where I start my sophomore year at 164 pounds, joined the STJ Pep Band (drums, baby!!), made amazing life-long friends, and met my future husband!!!
Fast forward to 3 years later, in 2012, I graduated from St. John’s University at 140 pounds!
I felt great, I looked great, and I was healthy. I had (and still have!) great friends, an amazing boyfriend, the best family and I was living at home rent-free while working in Madison, NJ, at a photo store!
Bad News: I think it was the homemade dinners, lack of working out from the 9-6 schedule, and no more campus/NYC walking, but I managed to gain 14 pounds that first year home. Now while 154 pounds doesn’t seem like a lot NOW (you’ll understand soon), I was relatively upset and would try to exercise it off or control my eating habits. I wasn’t losing any weight, and I also felt “stuck” at the mom-and-pop shop I was currently working at. Trying to find the positives, I accepted an offer in 2013 to manage my father’s Italian restaurant in Florida – double the income, and I could have them make me healthy meals without any effort from me! Sounds great, right!?
Florida was the most stressful 2 years of my life. While I loved spending time with my dad and having my boyfriend move in with me, I found out that the restaurant business wasn’t for me.
I first worked 60 hours/week, then after getting burnt out I lowered them to 40/week and hired a second manager to split the week with me. Great. I continued to gain more weight, as I had about 5-10 minutes to shove any food I had (read: order mistakes, specials, taste-testing) down my throat before continuing to host/manage employees/work back-end tasks. With that said, I went from 154 pounds to 184 pounds by the summer of 2015. That’s right – another 15 pounds per year. I went to a gym, hired a personal trainer, but it was just the food and stress that my body couldn’t keep up with.
Good News: I found out that I loved the business aspect of running a restaurant! I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, so I applied to universities to get my MBA. By the summer of 2015, I was moving to New Hampshire with my boyfriend to get a one-year MBA at the University of New Hampshire! Fresh start, new state, new opportunities. I managed to maintain my weight throughout that year, LOVED living with my boyfriend, and graduated with my Master of Business Administration degree in 2016.
Bad News – Part 2: Finding a job. I wasn’t having any luck. My BF and I moved into his parent’s cabin in NH, and I was did odd-jobs here and there. This was somehow different than that year in college where I used my spare time to lose weight. This time, I had the major stress issue of bills (car insurance, car payments, student loans, etc.) and while I tried to do some form of exercise daily and tried to watch my food intake, I gained another 5 pounds. I was, and currently am, 190 pounds.
HIGHEST. WEIGHT. EVER.
I have high blood pressure, I look awful, and overall I’m incredibly unhappy with how I look. But there were, in my mind, more important things to figure out before my own health.
My boyfriend’s father, Peter, was very ill. When I came home from a vacation with Mea and our dad this past July, my boyfriend, Jeph, proposed to me on the beaches of New Hampshire. Knowing he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life without me, knowing life is short, and knowing that his dad didn’t have much time left, we prepared to have a civil ceremony in his backyard for September 24th (his dad’s 85th birthday). I was getting married to my best friend!!! I HAD SO MUCH PLANNING TO DO IN A MONTH!!!
September: Wedding was planned and ready to go. Peter was getting worse, and with a low quality of life, he decided to end his dialysis.
Peter Patterson passed away on September 9th. This was a very hard time for everyone. I put my health aside, tried to comfort as much as possible while also keeping my own wits about me, and discussed the ceremony with Jeph. We agreed we wanted this, and everyone needed a happy occasion to celebrate life and love!We got married on that Saturday, September 24th, 2016! It was a beautiful day, and I wouldn’t change it for that world. I will try to leave this post on a happy note, but I will quickly debrief on what has happened since then, my other interests, and what I look forward to happening in the future:
Since then …
- I got a temp job at a fantastic energy company in NH, Sprague!
- Jeph’s older sister passed away from cancer.
- We’re in the midst of planning a big wedding celebration with ALL of our family and friends!
- My job at Sprague ended and I got an entry-level job in NJ.
- My HUSBAND and I moved to NJ! I GET TO LIVE WITH MY SISTER!!!
- My new job was awful and against better financial judgement, I quit.
- I’ve tried countless diets and fitness games, and am still 190 pounds.
- I’m jobless and still looking.
- Married life is AMAZING.
- It’d be better with our own apartment/house.
My other interests are …
- Arts and crafts
- Projects – DIYs, organizing, refinishing furniture, building things, etc.
- Baking all kinds of goodies, healthy and unhealthy!
- Trying to figure out what’s in those promotion emails before opening them (i.e. Bed Bath and Beyond email: “Make Married Life Sizzle…” This has to be kitchen stuff. *opens email to find Calphalon ads* NAILED IT!)
- Complaining about working out
- Complaining about my weight
- Eating ALL the food
- I see the problem now …
I look forward to …
- Finding a CAREER I can live with for a while!
- Celebrating and partying in August while wearing a gorgeous ballgown and being around my beautiful friends and family!
- Losing 40 pounds for that event – and for life!
- Loving my husband for the rest of my life
- And ideally renting/financing a house together by the end of the year!
- HAVING FUN!
This blog is going to be a blast, as Mea and I will be posting our adventures and misadventures! Our journeys, our successes, our failures, our wins, our losses, our happiness and our sadness. If there’s anything I’ve learned during these last 5 years, it’s
with the good comes the bad, and with the bad comes the good.
I’m ready to face these challenges with my husband and best friend, with my sister and -also- best friend, and with all my family and friends by my side. But rest assured – we’ll also be ready to celebrate when good times arise!
Lots of Love,