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Salute to Success ~ April 2013


           Hi Everybody!  Spring is here.... a time when all the flowers start to bloom and new life is all around.  Are you ready to give yourself a chance to "bloom?"  Well, to give you some motivation this month, I want to introduce you to Marie, one of my students at Slimmons.  Here's her story....

          "Food has always been my best friend. I eat when I'm happy, I eat when I'm sad...I just eat. I grew up in New Jersey, and life was about pizza, pasta, and more pizza! I'm so thankful to be writing this piece, as I am finally taking control of this 15+ year struggle and I am so excited that I have Richard in my life to help and motivate me!

        I have struggled with my weight since I was young. It wasn't easy being a fully developed 3rd grader and having to buy bras at Macy's at age nine. In middle and high school, my weight fluctuated but when I graduated high school in 2006. I had been going to the gym and eating right, and I was around 150 lbs when I graduated. I felt amazing and on top of the world. My freshman year of college, I quickly realized that even at 150 lbs, I was considered "fat" to all of the attractive, "cool" guys in college. I would go to parties and be the fun, fat friend. I've always looked at myself as pretty and really funny, but in college, if you're not thin, you're not "hot."
        I started going home from parties, stopping at the local grocery store, picking up a pint of ice cream and ordering a Domino's pizza on my way back to my dorm so by the time I got there, it would be delivered. This cycle quickly started to get out of control. Then, in the spring of 2007, I found out that my parents were separating, which was the most devastating news I had ever received. Between their divorce and my never seeming to really fit in in college, I turned a corner in the complete wrong direction. I also started an on-again-off-again relationship that would last throughout my time in college with a guy who was verbally abusive. It didn't help that at times I felt that I could only rely on him...and then I couldn't, so I relied on my best friend food.

        By the time I had graduated college in 2010, I had gained over 100 lbs. I have always been a confident person and have always thought I was pretty, but I knew I had really put on the pounds. What NEVER helped were the comments from family members who were trying to help, but actually made it worse because in the end, they made me feel like I was less than I could be and that my size was holding me back. The eating continued. I briefly went to a nutritionist, but instead of helpful encouragement, she was hurtful and mean. She also made me a list of foods to eat, and it was basically only salads and extremely restrictive. I lost about 13 lbs when seeing her, but then quickly gained it back. You can't yell at someone and tell them, "EAT THIS SALAD!" You have to show people with food issues how they can still eat everything, but they have to learn about portions, the right foods to order in restaurants, etc.

         In the summer of 2010, I moved to Los Angeles, and I honestly feel that's where my life began. I know most people say the best four years of their lives are in college - but I couldn't disagree more. My life started after college. And moving to LA was the best decision I ever made. I work for The Walt Disney Company, I surround myself everyday with caring people, and I know it's tough to admit, but moving 3,000 miles away from my divorced parents and difficult past was the push I needed to move on from the struggle.
       While all of these good things were happening, I still didn't have my eating under control. I would leave work, go to McDonald's, get a "snack" (a.k.a. a full meal), then go home and have a big dinner and dessert. When I met my boyfriend in March 2011, I weighed about 260 lbs. Kirk has always been supportive and amazing to me, but I would sometimes feel like my weight was holding me back from my full potential as an amazing girlfriend. We would go out to eat all the time and I would order the worst food on the menu, and by the time our one year anniversary rolled around, I weighed about 275 lbs.
       I had several turning points in the spring of 2012. The first was that all of my shirts from Lane Bryant were the LARGEST size (where else can I shop after this?). I also was finding that mundane activities were extremely strenuous (walking up stairs especially!). And finally, 4th of July weekend 2012, Kirk and I went to Knott's Berry Farm, an amusement park in Orange County, and I couldn't fit on one of the rides. Everyone stared at me as I had to walk to the exit and leave. I was embarrassed and that was really the first time that my size was evident. I decided then that I could either accept the fact that I would soon be 300 lbs, or I could get my life on track.

     Later in July, I saw my friend post a picture with Richard Simmons on Facebook. I love meeting celebrities, so I thought I would just go one time to his Slimmons studio, get a picture with him and that would be it. Well, that class changed everything. 

     Soon after that, I got on a healthy eating plan and I have an amazing group leader who is extremely motivating. We talk about how to live and enjoy life, and make better eating decisions. I honestly look forward to weighing in each week. The scale doesn't lie! And the great thing about the program is even if you have one bad day, you can turn it around the next day. Then, I started figuring out how I could incorporate exercise into my life. I go to Richard's class twice a week and I am open to all different types of exercise. I take a tap class every Sunday and I love Zumba. I have started making my workouts a part of my routine. I have the classes on my work's just another meeting I have to attend!

         In March 2013, I hit my 40 lbs of weight loss mark. I am thrilled!!!! I feel fantastic. I'm in one of Richard's new Project H.O.P.E. DVDs! I am wearing clothes I haven't fit into in years! A few weeks ago, Kirk and I were going to a fancy dinner, and he zipped me into a dress I haven't worn since 2009 and it looked amazing. I cried hysterically!

          I am not losing the weight super fast. I still have slip-ups. I like ice cream and bagels and turkey clubs occasionally, but I am learning to make better decisions day to day. For example, if I know I'm going out on the weekend and there probably won't be many healthy food options, then I eat very well during the week to plan for it. With every pound I lose, I feel like I'm gaining more of my life back. It's the BEST feeling in the world. I'm grateful for the support I've gotten - but mostly I'm grateful for my decision to get on track."

             Marie, thank you so much for sharing your story wtih my readers!  I'm so glad you came to Slimmons that day, and I am so proud of you!!!   Keep going strong!