…and I had the courage to begin my transformation journey.
BEFORE: This is me at the start of weight loss boot camp.
AFTER: This is me in my makeover photo shoot after reaching goal in May 2012.
Four years ago today, I found myself at a live-in, weight-loss boot camp at my beloved resort on Lake Superior — beginning a journey that would change the trajectory of my life forever.
I had no idea at the time just how much this one decision would matter, or what it meant in the grand scheme of my life. Nor did I have a clue how much courage I would have to muster. There simply was no way to prepare my mind and body for what I was about to put it through. Nor was there a way to ease my intense fear.
And so, with a pit in my stomach the size of California, I leapt off the cliff. I adopted a “just do it” mentality and trusted that I would survive the boot camp and be stronger for it. I trusted that my business would be okay in the hands of others for those two weeks and that my clients would understand. And, I trusted my mentor and inspiration, O’Neal Hampton, when he said “We’ve got this. You can be happy.”
I trusted in these things because at 381 pounds I felt I had no choice. I weighed more than an NFL Defensive Lineman (the biggest player on the football team) and was living a small and limiting life. Although I was successful in my career, I had given up on love, had a limited social life because I couldn’t do so many things at my size. And, I was secretly hiding behind the shame that I had let my body and my life come to this and I couldn’t seem to fix it.
To mask the internal pain, I stuffed my feelings with gallons of fast and processed foods, and worked 12 to 18 hours a day, seven days a week, in an office chair. This was not a path to a happy and fulfilling life. Rather, it was a quick road to an early death since stroke, diabetes and heart disease all run rampant in my family. I was out of the equation of my own life, not even in the picture at all. And, I was out of options.
It takes immense courage to change your life when you’ve lost hope. But I did it. I swallowed hard, packed my bags, handed off the reigns of my marketing business, and ventured to Minnesota’s North Shore for weight-loss boot camp. Taking one moment, one hour at a time, I repeated to myself over and over what O’Neal had said to me: “We’ve got this. You can do this.”
I showed up on day one of the two-week boot camp and in that first meeting with the program director set this goal for myself: “I will NOT quit. No matter what!” That goal has been my mantra since that very day four years ago. Yep, it was not just my goal in boot camp, but my new mantra in life, especially when the going gets tough. And it has served me well.
Most people set weight loss goals at the beginning of the boot camp. But I knew that, for me, it would be tough to stay in the game and not throw in the towel when the going got really, really tough. To keep fighting and pushing forward through intense physical and emotional pain would be my biggest victory. I knew that if I found the courage to do that, the weight loss would follow.
I was right.
I went on to lose -211pounds, nearly 50% body fat, and 11 dress sizes. It took me 18-months from that day to lose the weight and achieve a body fat of 14.5%. I’ve now maintained my weight loss for 2.5 years, with a few ups and downs. That was the physical transformation. But it was the internal transformation that was most profound and that many of you have heard me speak and write about. The internal happiness that comes from learning self-love and acceptance, and really believing that you are enough. This is the gift that leaves one nearly speechless. And the gift that truly keeps on giving, and giving and giving.
Taking stock of the journey & reaping the rewards…one anniversary at a time
Each year on the anniversary of my official transformation start (Nov. 28-Dec. 11, 2010) and again on the anniversary of reaching my goal weight (May 12, 2012), I blog about the impact on my life. I write about what the transformation anniversary means to me and how my life is different as a result. And, each year, I hope to reach others with my message: Each and every person deserves to be happy, can be happy, and has within them the power to make it happen. I am a living example. If I can do it, you can do it.
This year, I’ve decided to take stock in a slightly more formal way. I’ve set a goal to write something every day in my personal journal and/or here about the transformation as I’m experiencing it today. It’s strange but I have found that the farther I get into the journey of healthy living, the more profound the transformation for me.
The internal transformation continues, and the learning and growth are more palpable with each passing month and year. The external transformation — learning to live a healthy lifestyle and keep the weight off (which for me means battling addiction and changing life-long patterns and behaviors) — becomes more real. I thought it would get easier with time but the truth is, it ebbs and flows, like life. It is definitely an ongoing challenge and a process.
Proud, happy and grateful
So, today, on the four-year anniversary of my life-changing transformation start, I feel intensely proud of my courage and eternally grateful for the process AND the results.
I am grateful for the life-changing gift of health and happiness. I am grateful for my new life, even with its twisty ups and downs. I am grateful for O’Neal Hampton, my inspiration and mentor in the boot camp process. And, for my coaches and trainers who’ve helped me along the way. I am grateful for Sue, Shari and Carrie who supported me in those incredibly challenging boot camp days, and in many days since.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all of my family, friends and supporters — old and new — who continue to encourage, cheer, listen and support me now, four years later.
Finally, I hold tremendous gratitude in my heart that I am strong enough, brave enough, beautiful enough, sexy enough, wise enough, courageous enough to follow my heart and go for my big, hairy, audacious goals and dreams — wherever they may take me.
Thank you for reading this blog. For being here as part of the In the Equation community. And for being courageous enough to follow your dreams and go for your big, hairy, audacious goals!
#courageousgirl #beyondgrateful #happyhealthygirl
Read related blogs here, including a few from my boot camp experience four years ago:
You are exactly where you need to be
Day 1: 7 hours and still going strong
Climbed a mountain and then some
Oberg Mountain — my new personal quest
My Fitness North 2 Finale
Before & After Pics, Video
Celebrating one year in a little black dress
One year sans 200 pounds…my new reality
Two years fit and healthy
Three years — another cool milestone