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Salute to Success~ December 2013

          Here we are in the last month of 2013.  For my Salute to Success this month, I want to introduce you to Marsha.  Many of you clubhouse members already know Marsha.  And how appropriate is it, for my December column, that her cubhouse name is....Mistletoe! Here's Marsha's story in her own words...

         "Summer, 1998, at age 48, was my time of enlightenment, my mid-life crisis. The scale and lab work from my annual checkup showed the results of a lifetime of unsuccessfully battling oppressive overweight and obesity. Additional medications were prescribed, and I referred to myself as a walking pharmacy. As usual, my response to the disappointing news was to go on a strict diet, and I managed to lose a few pounds before going back to work from vacation, when a co-worker talked me into rejoining Weight Watchers with her, for my tenth time. My weight was 251 in July, 1998, and I remain an active, Lifetime Weight Watcher member. I am a slow loser, but had decided that at age 48, it was time to be patient with a sensible weight-loss program designed to be managed over a lifetime. It took over three years of dedication to their program to reach a 75 pound weight-loss. I maintained that loss for seven years, without any yo-yo weight fluctuations. Steady. Stuck. I decided over and over again to continue on course - that my accumulated loss was probably as reasonable as any middle-aged woman should expect. Then, I met Richard Simmons! Searching for a replacement of my missing VHS tape, STTO2, I stumbled into his web site and found much more than his DVD collections! Soon, I wanted to join Richard’s clubhouse.  

         With a handsome husband, three wonderful, beautiful children, and my strong faith in God who tells us to take care of our bodies, you would think that health would have been my first priority. It was not, until I saw health slipping away. There have been a multitude of surprise bonuses discovered during the past 15 years. Health and vitality improved, developed, and strengthened during the years as I diligently purified my methods of cooking, eating, and exercising - even when I wasn’t losing weight.  I really never knew the benefits of being in excellent health…until it happened. The blessings of continuous improvement still seem to be happening, even through my last four years of maintenance. A sense of peace has come over me, and I now fully embrace my new lifestyle, wondering how on earth I was so completely duped into thinking that poor lifestyle choices would be missed. Yes, there are times when I still wander a bit from the straight and narrow path, but my strength is fortified by that inner peace, and I don’t wander far enough to get lost again.

         Richard taught me that it was FUN to exercise! He taught me that it was FUN to get creative in the kitchen. Fun was the ingredient I needed to finish the job of getting to goal and staying there. Richard proved to me, through challenges, that eating pure and clean tasted better and was more satisfying than lightening old unhealthy favorite recipes for the sake of saving a few calories. The best appetite suppressants in the world are enjoying our experiences and FEELING GOOD!  I reached my Weight Watcher goal, with a weight my doctor set for me, in June, 2009. My HTN weight (Hungry Thirsty Naked) is always under 150. I lost right at 100 pounds and have not exceeded my goal weight in over four years. By the time I had reached my goal, I was totally convinced that the healthy lifestyle I had adopted was the ONLY lifestyle I was interested in to continue throughout the remainder of my life.   

          I continue to use the same methods in maintenance that brought me to goal: journaling, drinking water, weighing and measuring portions (especially the more delicious looking portions – LOL), and exercising daily. It is no longer a “program”, but the way I prefer to live. My family does not fully embrace all of my choices; however, most times they do respect my choices. I am quite selfish when it comes to this, because I have converted. I don’t feel as exuberant when I stray from a wellness-centered plan, and I love feeling exuberant!

          But how do you make such big changes permanent? The answer is simple: SUPPORT! Obesity is a physical and mental condition. There are thousands of physical reasons why some people never have weight issues and why others struggle with it. While the reasons are complicated and seemingly overwhelming, the solution is not: many of us are simply slow losers/fast gainers, for whatever reason. It is what it is! So, in order for us to successfully overcome our physical deficiencies, we must overload on our emotional support. Our spirits can make us soar well beyond our physical capabilities. I needed more than my weekly group meetings. I needed to be encouraged often to resist temptations and increase my activity to counteract my personal condition, hypothyroidism. More than anything else, I still need to remain focused in a state of vigilance to maintain my improved health. I feel so good! I believe I will continue on this road because now I know what I was missing before - while being held within obesity’s limitations – and I don’t wish to give up on my new found vigor. When we remain faithful to a healthy program, we do adapt. Humans are creatures of habit. When we change our habits, we change our sense of “normal”. Weight loss will always be a challenge for me because of my physicality, but with the positive, emotional support I receive from family and friends, the challenges will remain surmountable. A pill can alleviate many of our physical problems. Community can fill many of our emotional needs. Together, we can make a winning team.

         In my 60s now, my favorite retirement hobby is making soup and healthful dishes…with personality. What better way to make someone want to eat a vitamin-rich, life-supporting, healthy soup, than by giving it a little flair? I have recorded my hobby into a book, which is in the process of publication, to be released by Dorrance Publishing, in May, 2014: An Exodus from Obesity: Enjoying the Ride.  I write about the importance of support, and the importance of making healthy changes, even when others in your own household do not wish to make all of the changes with you. It is about making peace with food, and my new Souper Living ways.

         Thank you, Richard, once again, for this web site and your amazing insight, courage, and energy. You have brought together like-minded friends, all over the world, collectively trying to cure worldwide obesity, one bite at a time, one leg-lift at a time, one life at a time. Thank you to my cyber-friends! You’ve helped me stay out of the kitchen when I could hear the siren’s call from the refrigerator! You’ve challenged me to walk at least 100 miles every month, never to slack, and to be ever vigilant! You are friends, you are family! Thank you, Papa Richard, for bringing us all together!"

         Marsha, I am so proud of you.   Thank you for sharing your story with my readers. Keep going strong!  I know you will.