2012 is now behind us and I’m somewhat sad to see the year hit the history books. A lot has happened in the last few months, and I am excited to share with you all of the interesting opportunities that life has thrown at me.   

The excitement started in September when my culinary school education at Johnson and Wales University came back in to play and I re-entered the workforce. I accepted a position as a catering cook at Children’s Hospital Colorado, and I am officially living my dream of working in the food service industry. These developments have done wonders for my self-esteem and are a far cry from my humble culinary beginnings on the Food Network’s season one of Worst Cooks in America.   

Along with school and work I trained for another full marathon, the Bank of America Marathon in Chicago.  This was my second full marathon in two years, and I am thrilled to report that I completed the 26.2 mile trek 20 minutes faster than my New York City Marathon time! The trip was a bit of a chaotic one, but in the end, I had the opportunity to reconnect with my German marathon buddy, Tine Sommers. The training for this race was much less intense than my first, and I was about 15-20 pounds lighter as well. For this race I focused on my weight and not so much the distance or speed of the run, and it made a noticeable difference in how my body felt post finish line adrenaline.   

The final development that I am going to share is the passing of my grandmother and namesake, Sophia B. Ayala.  She was 96 years old and other than just being tired she really hadn’t had any serious ailments. My grandmother has been a rock in my life and many will miss her. She was a driving force for me to be healthy and to stay active. I remember the amazing summers I spent with her in California. She always ensured that my days were filled with activities like swimming lessons, camp and shopping sprees at our favorite store, Mervyns. I also vividly remember her taking me to the grocery store and letting me fill the cart with all the fruits and veggies I could eat. I didn’t even realize I wasn’t interested in my usual go to snacks like Oreos and ice cream. She had a special way of steering me in the right direction and not forcing me to make healthy choices or making me feel bad about myself. I always came back home those summers a few pounds lighter and with a lifetime of adventures to tell my family.

In the past year, I would write to her frequently (she wasn’t able to hear and towards the end she couldn’t speak) and share all that was going on in my ever-evolving schedule. I would even send a print out of each blog I shared with my fellow LiveWell Moms. Sometimes she would reply and sometimes not, but I always knew she was proud. I hope I can continue her legacy with my own children and be the grandmother she was to me.   

So, I’ll close with a year-end wrap up: 

Weight: 202 pounds 
Pounds lost:  53 
Marathons run: 1 Bank of America Chicago Marathon 
½ Marathons run: 1 Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon 
5Ks run:  1 Fetal Hope 5K 
Money raised for charity: $1,065.00 
Goals reached:  ALL   

It has been a pretty great year. The world didn’t end, which means all the healthy choices I made throughout the holidays will count for something, and I didn’t miss out goodies in vain. This isn’t the end; it’s just the middle of this roller coaster of a journey we call life. Remember to stay strong. You are the hero of your own story!