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  • Transformation Tuesday, Roxanne’s story… January 10, 2015 / Transformation Tuesday

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    Let’s go back 13 years to September 8, 2001…

    This is the day I decided I was going to lose weight and get healthy.  There were lots of factors that went into my decision; I wanted to be healthy to start a family, I had seen my dad go through heart bypass surgery 2 years earlier and didn’t want to end up with a surgery like that, I was sick of being down of myself for my weight and letting it affect my daily attitude, and my jeans had just shrunk in the dryer…again!

    There is so much I need to tell you about to get my whole story across and my feelings as well, but then I would be writing a novel and not a blog post so I’ll try to keep it brief.   Let’s flashback to my childhood…my weight started going up and up as a young child, I would say probably by the time I was 10 I was clearly bigger than all of my friends and other kids in my class.  I remember in third grade winning a contest by guessing the number of candy items in a jar, and being so embarrassed that I won because I didn’t want all the kids to think I was any more of a pig than I already was.  Sad I know, but completely honest and true.  Another memory I vividly remember is when I was weighed and measured for my sixth grade records.  I stepped on the scale and was mortified by the number it said.  It said I was 136 pounds and 4ft 11inches.  I don’t think there were many people that weighed that much, including some of the teachers.

    Fast forwarding to high school and my trend stayed of being one of the bigger girls but luckily the “fashion” back in the early 90’s was layering, grunge looks and overalls, all things that I could hide what I didn’t want others to see.  I thought I was doing a good job of it but looking back at photos of myself, I really wasn’t.  There isn’t a good way to hide.  There isn’t a good way to cover it up.  I was trying to pretend I wasn’t fat but I was fooling myself.  I graduated in 1995 and I remember feeling deflated again.  I was so happy to be graduating and “starting” my life and so excited to have my cap and gown in hands.  But, there was a problem, I almost could not zip the gown that was “one size fits all”.

    I then met my husband in 1995 and we started dating and were then married in 1997.  Soon after we were married I started to eat like my husband.  Now if any of you know him you know that he can pretty much eat whatever he wants and he never gains weight, but that was NOT true for me.  Within months, years, I had gained more than 40 pounds.  I thought I was able to keep up with him by eating the same food choices he made, eating when he ate, and the whole time thinking I would be fine.  That’s when the dryer started to shrink lots of clothes!   Before that fateful day of September 8, 2001, I topped the scale at 225 pounds and was in a size 24 pant.

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    So on that day, I started working out regularly and “joined” Weight Watchers.  I say “joined” because I never went to any meetings, just followed their program.  I had gotten the literature for Weight Watchers from a friend I worked with and started doing it all on my own.  I had no idea how much I wanted to lose or where I wanted to be, I just knew I wanted to be healthy and right now, healthy is not what I was.  I started to track all of my food intake and usually kept within my daily point allowance.  In two to three months, I had lost 25 pounds and people were starting to notice.  I felt pretty good and thought, “Hey, I can really do this.”  So at that point I set a goal, I wanted to be less than I was in sixth grade.  Less than 136 pounds.  I can do this, I can do this, I kept chanting to myself.

    It’s now 2003 and I had dropped 60 pounds and was around 160, pant size 14.  In January and February I was feeling “off”.  Something wasn’t right and the foods that I had become accustomed to eating on WW weren’t tasting good.  I wanted to eat “junk” because that is all that sounded good and tasted good to me.  I took a pregnancy test and guess what?  We had a little bambino or bambina on the way!  My husband and I were thrilled and couldn’t wait to start this journey called parenthood.  But, I had reservations.  How was I going to eat while pregnant?  Would I be able to keep off the 60 pounds I had just lost?  Would I be able to lose it after I had the baby?

    In September 2003 I gave birth to my oldest child, a son!  I was so happy to be a mom!  5 months or so after he was born I decided to start WW again and try to lose the weight I had gained during pregnancy.  I had gained 45 pounds while pregnant, I was eating for two after all! 🙂  But now it was time to reach my goal…again.   So I got back to the grind and worked for my goal.  I was making some headway and then found myself pregnant again, and again, and again, and again, and again!  With two miscarriages behind me and three more children, born October 2006, September 2009 and September 2011, my body had had lots of ups and downs, literally.   I had yo-yo’d so much with the pregnancies that it was kind of ridiculous!  I started the monotonous task of counting calories, counting points, again.  It became such an “easy” thing for me that I got bored, and this was not a good thing.  I am a person who thrives on a challenge and challenged, I was not.

    But…there was something missing.  I was trying to do it all on my own…

    By October 2013 I heard from God.  He told me that he wanted me to do a complete three day fast.  My church participates in church wide, country wide fast every January for 21 days.  I had participated in the fast for the past 3 years but had only done the “Daniel fast” and never did a complete fast, which is fasting from food for a certain number of days and while fasting you incorporate prayer.  The whole process is to bring your body into submission and let your spirit (the real you), be in control and let God have control.  To be in a place with Him to hear from Him on questions you have, answers you are waiting for.   Well God certainly knows me and knows that I would need to get my mind ready for not eating for three days, hence the reason He spoke to me about it in October and the fast didn’t start until January, 2014. 🙂  I decided to listen to God’s instructions and to follow what He was telling me to do.  Why He wanted me to do it was a mystery.  What He was planning to do with it was a mystery.  (Ezra 8:21; …I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before God…”

    I prepared my mind, prepared my kids and my family and did three complete days, 72 hours with no food, only water, and then started immediately after that the Daniel fast (www.daniel-fast.com) for the remainder of the 21 days.  God transformed my mind during those three days.  God took away all cravings of sweets during those three days.  God completely changed my life during those three days.  During the next 10 months I was faithful to what God wanted me to do.  He wanted me to eat only His food, which meant real food.  No processed food, no junk food, no wheat and no sweets!  I started to eat completely separate from my family, not separate times but separate meals.  I started to see what He was doing for me.  He was ridding me of all the hurt, all the pain, all of the baggage that I had been carrying almost my whole life.  The baggage and the hurt that came from being overweight.  I had not been treating my body as a temple the way He instructs us to do.  1 Cor 6:19 says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Hold Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

    I was seeing results and not just physical results but mental results.  I have learned through my own experiences that it really doesn’t matter how hard you work to get the weight off, unless you deal with the hurt and the reasons for the excess baggage, also called weight, the weight will almost always come back on.  God dealt with the pain of the weight for me and now I was free, completely FREE, to honor Him with my body.  To share my testimony, my triumphs and my tribulations.  I was free and not ashamed of it anymore!  I have also learned that what goes into your body is 90% of the battle.  Yes of course exercise is imperative to your health too, but you have to be conscious of what you fuel your body with.

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    Here it is January 2015, and in the past year I lost a total of 37 pounds bringing me to a weight of 125 pounds and a size 2 pant, if you remember my original goal was 136 pounds! 🙂    I am participating in the fast again this year, day #4 today, and I am renewed once again as to what this journey means for me.  It is about me sharing my story, my testimony, telling it without shame in the hopes to encourage others.  I pray that you were able to be encouraged by my story.  I pray that it motivates you.  I pray that you are able to see what God has in store for you, a life of hope and your own testimony to share with others.  I pray you can see that YOU are worth it, YOU can do it!  I now believe that I am what God says I am, not what others say that I am.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”  So long ago what others said about me, meant to be mean and hurt me, no longer has a hold on me.  I am a new creation!

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    It took me 13+ years to reach my goal.  It took me 13+ years to lose 100 pounds.  I had ups and downs, times when I wanted to throw in the towel, and times where I didn’t want to care.  And do you know what?  That is completely okay. 😀  I think that if it came easy I wouldn’t have appreciated it.  I think that if I had done it my way instead of God’s ultimate way, I would still be dealing with pain, hurt and shame instead of being free.  I could not have done it on my own!   I also have to mention my faithful, loving and encouraging husband.  He has been through all of this with me and never gave up on me or thought I couldn’t do it.  I thank God for him every day!

    And for now I’ll leave you with this amazing quote…”Success in not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” -Winston Churchill

    ~Roxanne

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    Thank you for reading, I hope to be able to share YOUR Transformation Tuesday story someday.  If you have a Transformation Tuesday story to share, please click HERE for the submission.

    Please share this blog post and encourage one another!  You can share it by copying the URL code.  Thanks!

  • Transformation Tuesday, Shawn’s story {Zeeland, Michigan portrait photographer} February 18, 2014 / Special, Transformation Tuesday

    Time for another Transformation Tuesday!  I love Tuesdays for this very reason!  Today’s story comes from a woman named Shawn.  The story of a stay-at-home mom with food struggles.  Here is Shawn’s story…

    “My name is Shawn and I am mom to three little ones. I have always struggled with my weight, through high school and college, using unhealthy diets to lose weight. After I was married in 2004, I slowly began to gain weight. It was really when I began having kids that my weight and bad health got out of control. Over the last 6 years of having babies, I struggled with post partum depression and anxiety. I turned to food to help with the sadness and stress. I went from 200 lbs to 340 lbs in those 6 years. My family would eat out 5 days a week and I was a junk food addict, eating bags of candy at night. It felt like there was no way to get back on track.

    Shawn's story

    Then in March 2013, when my youngest was 6 months old, I saw a video online by a mom who had struggled with her weight and post partum depression. She had lost 60 lbs doing Chalean Extreme and drink Shakeology. I was truly inspired and decided to buy it and commit. My husband jumped on board with eating healthy and running. Within 3 months, I had lost 48 lbs. I decided to do the program again and lost another 35 lbs during the following 3 months for a total of 83 lbs lost during the 6 months. I continued with working out and eating right doing P90X and lost another 17 lbs.

    The first after image of me in the peach tank was taken following that.

    Shawn's story

    The second picture, of me in the dress, is a most recent picture.

    Shawn's story

    I have lost a total of 108 lbs and feel amazing. My husband has lost 60 lbs. We have completely changed our health and our lives. Our marriage was hurting and we were so unhappy and life is now completely different, full of love, support, and fun with our kids. We have made our health a priority and plan to continue working hard to lose weight and be healthy. I have a page where I share more of my story and pictures at www.facebook.com/settingtheexample.

    Thank you for opportunity to share my story but also for a makeover! lol This stay at home mom could definitely use one!”

    Thank you to Shawn for sharing her story.  🙂  Did it inspire you?  Do you want to inspire others?

    If you would like to be featured and tell your own personal story of weight loss, please fill out this link.

  • Transformation Tuesday, Amber’s story! {Zeeland, Michigan portrait photographer} February 4, 2014 / Transformation Tuesday

    It’s Tuesday, so do you know what that means?  Time for another Transformation Tuesday!  Today’s story is Amber’s story.  A story of a young mom with four young children looking for a change.  So here is Amber’s story…

    “My weight loss journey began September 28, 2012, a moment when I decided I had to change. I had three babies in four years, and was very unhappy in my skin. I had told myself many times in the past, I had to lose weight, but always fell off the wagon. I got up the morning of September 29 and cut all my food portions by half. I had no motivation to exercise, as I felt tired enough with four kids keeping me running. The first week I watched 3.5lbs drop right off, and it motivated me to push harder. I worked daily making better food choices, but always allowed myself the sweet treats I craved in small amounts. By February 2013 I had lost about 35lbs, but still had no drive to exercise, and felt I shouldn’t take time from my kids for myself.

    February 22, 2013 I found myself having to have a full hysterectomy after months of troubles. I quickly discovered all the hormonal changes that come along with such a major change. I found the pounds sneaking back on at a rapid pace, and unable to stop it. I needed help and decided weight watchers might be the exact help I needed. I joined and went to at least one meeting a week, in between baseball, tee-ball, and toddlers. I found myself packing many meals in the car, and never taking cash to make a quick stop for treats. I made a promise no matter what no food past 7pm, no matter how hungry. I knew I needed exercise, but where and when?  I started reading about 30 day challenges, and I began with a crunch challenge which only took 1 minute or less. I would do crunches in the grass at the baseball games, or on the floor when changing a diaper. I started adding more quick workouts including planks, and squats. I decided to run the bases with my 4 year old, and chase my girls just to hear them laugh. I watched my whole family’s mood, and health change. We had all witnessed many members of our extended family become sick with heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. We needed to become a healthy, energetic family, and what better time then now. We set the example our kids follow, and I want to be a healthy, and happy role model.

    I am proud to say July 2013 I became a lifetime member of weight watchers losing exactly 50lbs from the day I decided to change. I have kept that weight within range through many rough months, but will not lose this battle, not when my kids are counting on me. I have my bad days as everyone does, but every moment is a new moment…a time to change.

    ~Amber”

    Amber's story

    While Amber’s story is hers and unique to her, I hope you can see the end of the finish line just like she did!  I hope it inspired you whether you have 10lbs to loose or 100lbs to loose!

    Thank you to Amber for being brave and telling her story and to help inspire others.  I am so happy to know you and your journey personally, and so happy that you are a happier and healthier mom, wife and friend. 🙂

    If you would like to be featured and tell your own personal story of weight loss, please fill out this link.

  • Transformation Tuesday {Zeeland, Michigan portrait photographer} January 21, 2014 / Special, Transformation Tuesday

    First ever “Transformation Tuesday” post and I am super, duper excited! WHY, you ask? Because transformations and weight loss is very near and dear to me! I have my own personal story that I will tell once I have completed the weight loss portion of it. But for now I am focusing in YOU! I want to showcase your achievements, your dreams and how you got there. Everyone’s story will be different. Everyone’s journey will be different. That is okay to be different. We are all different and what works for one person does not necessarily work for another.

    This first “TT” post is all about Robyn’s story, and while unique to her, I hope that you all can see yourselves at the finish line just like she did! I hope it inspires you, whether you have 10lbs to loose or 100lbs to loose.

    So here is Robyn’s story…

    “My name is Robyn and I am 40 years old. Like millions of others my weight has fluctuated over the years. Severely fluctuated would be a better word for it.

    I am the mother of 18 year old twins and a 16 year old. For their entire lives I focused on them, of course, they are my babies! However, I also used them as an excuse or a crutch when it came to explaining or reasoning why I still had “baby fat” after almost two decades. Sad but true. Then on July 16, 2012 I had a picture taken of myself and my daughter’s boyfriend. When that picture was given to me a week later I literally burst into tears. I could not believe my eyes. I knew my weight was back up. I own mirrors and I know what the size of my clothes were but somehow I had blinders on and never truly saw what everyone else was seeing. Let me tell you, that picture was a rude awakening and my eyes were opened! I knew I had one year until the big 4-0 and I was NOT going to have that birthday looking and feeling the way I did.

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    The very next day I called Grand Health Partners, after being up most of the night doing research, and signed up for their next available informational meeting. They are a wonderful group of doctors that help people, medically and surgically, battle their weight issues. Three days later, husband in tow, I went to a meeting. I was so intrigued by all they had to say but I knew that after so many great successes (80# or so at least three times) always followed by failures, that I needed to be extreme. I decided a Gastric Sleeve was going to be my extreme tool to get me, once and for all, to the person I knew I was meant to be. After meeting with doctors, working through insurance approvals and figuing out work schedule, I had my surgery date set.

    I went through all of the classes that GHP offered. I met with a Behavioral Specialist, met with the Surgeon, met with a Nutritionist and went to a couple of support group meetings. I wanted to make sure I had all of my bases covered and follow all of their suggestions to make sure I did not “fall off the wagon” ever again. Finally, 2 weeks before the surgery I started the Pre-Surgery diet, very low calories, food that was pre-packaged and available through GHP. By the morning of September 5, 2012 (yes I fast tracked) I was ready! So excited about my future that my nerves did not even matter. On a side note, I had decided to keep my surgery a secret from almost everyone. My immediate family, my parents and 2 people from work were all that knew. I knew that I had to be mentally ready for the changes that I had already started and the new lifestyle that I was getting with the help of surgery and I did not feel strong enough at the time to explain my decision to anyone. There is such a negative response, often not always, when people find out that someone had weight loss surgery. It is wrong, unfair and not true, but I knew I was not prepared for those debates at that time.

    My surgery went beautifully, I had no complications during or after. I had a very smooth transition into my new lifestyle. I credit that to using all of the tools that GHP supplied me with. I was up and walking every hour for 10 minutes the day after surgery and I have not stopped since. In fact, I have become an exercise junky! I started by walking, walking and walking some more. It was slow going at first but by November I was bored and ready for more. I joined a gym, with the whole family and started jogging and then running on a tread mill. We played tennis, worked on weight and elliptical machines. I couldn’t get enough. I was seeing tremendous results and had never felt better in my life. Finally spring arrived and I did the unthinkable, I started running outside for all the world to see! I was not a runner, I thought runners were crazy! I love it! I cannot let a day go by without lacing up my shoes and hitting the road. Some days may only be 2 miles others 6, I just never know.

    I am now 1 1/2 years from my surgery date. I started out at 267# and a size 24 pant. My ultimate goal for myself was 150# and a size 10. Today I am 117# and a size 2 pant! Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would achieve all that I have. I attribute that to a wonderful staff at GHP, a fabulous family that cheered me on every step of the way and an unwaivering dedication to follow all of the rules. I do not “cheat” on my eating or exercising. There is nothing to “cheat” on. I am not on a diet, this is my lifestyle. I have certain food, calories and grams that I must reach every day to keep my body fully fueled and I do that. I do it for me. I had to be a little selfish in the beginning and realize it was okay to take me time. I felt guilty for not always eating with my family or making their meals, my family stepped up, because sometimes it was hard to be around the food (now I eat with them). Not because I missed it, I do not, but because the smells were difficult for me to handle. That was the hardest thing to overcome. Nothing smells the same now. A movie theatre makes me nauseous, the popcorn “butter” is not a good smell for me and my new stomach. But these were small things and in a short year I have been able to work through it all. I am now a healthier and happier, wife and mom.

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    As a reward, I treated myself to the second best ever gift to myself. I underwent a full tummy tuck and breast augmentation. After loosing all of that weight you can imagine the loose abdominal skin and the deflation of my breasts was hideous (especially after 3 kids). So again, with the support of my husband and girls, I had another surgery on November 25, 2013. It was rough to go through another couple of weeks of recovery, but oh so worth it! Everything is back in its place and my new clothes have never looked better. After 6 weeks I was back in the gym too!

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    The most important thing I can say about this journey is to be true to yourself. Surgery of any kind is not a cop-out. Surgery is difficult! There are many things that can go wrong and it is not a cure all. Weight loss surgery will make you loose weight for up to a year without you having to do too much work. However, it will NOT keep the weight off. It will not get you healthy. You have to do that. With or without surgery, your weight loss journey is for you to decide and to determine. No pill, plan or surgery will cure your obesity. Faith, love, determination, dedication and a great support system are all that can do that for you. And YOU, YOU are the most important component.

    Good luck and God bless, ~Robyn”

    For more information about Grand Health Partners, please visit their website.

    Thank you to Robyn for being brave to tell her story and to help inspire others. I am so happy for you and your new life!

    If you would like to be featured and share your own story of weight loss, whether it be 20lbs or 100lbs, please fill out this link.  You will be automatically entered into a drawing to receive a free “Transformation Tuesday” makeover session.  Contact Roxanne for more information!