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Salute to Success~ September 2010


Baby look at me...
And tell me what you see!
You ain't seen the best of me yet...
Give me time I'll make you forget the rest...

I got more in me...
And you can set it free!
I can catch the moon in my hands ...
Don't you know who I am?

Remember my name…
      You all know that song, don’t you? I could hear some of you singing along with me! Today I want to introduce you to Cindy… one of my friends from Slimmons. Cindy always wanted to be an actress. Well, she’s still pursuing that dream. But, she’s already a star in my eyes. By loving herself, and taking care of herself, she’s become the leading lady of her own life. And that’s what we all have to do to take control of our own lives isn’t it? We have to put ourselves in the leading role of our own story.
                 So now, in her own words…Cindy’s story…
                 “I never felt like a fat person but I’ve always been fat. I’ve been on a diet almost my entire life. My first memory of “being fat” was when my neighbor friend told me “I had baby fat and that one day I would lose it”. I was 8 years old. I guess I didn’t realize it would take me my whole life to lose.
                  I grew up 60 miles outside Chicago, IL in a city called Rockford. We were your typical mid-western family, except I never felt like I fit the mold. I sometimes thought I was an alien or that I was adopted. I spent a lot of my childhood trying to get noticed because I lived in the shadow of my older brother who was a soccer star. I guess that’s why I became a performer. I always knew I was on a diet because my parents restricted food from me. I wasn’t allowed certain treats and I was never allowed to order my own meal at a restaurant. 
                 My first, self-inflicted, diet was when I was 15 years old. I desperately wanted to be on pom pons. I auditioned 2 years in a row for my middle school squad and I never made the team. I was very active as a child. I took soccer and dance. I loved to dance. I excelled at tap and jazz, but ballet was a challenge. All the girls were tall and thin and flexible. I was not very flexible and since I was overweight I wasn’t as graceful as the other girls. I didn’t care because I loved to perform, no matter what I was doing. After being rejected from poms two years running, I knew that it wasn’t my skill or talent that was holding me back it was my weight. I decided to restrict my calories to around 1200 a day. 
                I dropped weight like a champ. I got down to 131 pounds and I was a size 8…I had never been so skinny before in my life. I would have kept going, but the problem was I got sick. My family thought I was anorexic, but I was actually eating. I noticed that no matter what size I was, people were always commenting on what I ate. I wasn’t sick enough to go to the doctor, or I didn’t let on that I was that sick, but my stomach was upset all the time. No matter what food I ate it would come out one end or the other and not in a pleasant way. Thankfully, this didn’t last long. I decided I would quit dieting and resumed my regular eating habits immediately. I gained back about 15 pounds right away, but I felt much better. I made the pom squad and was dating a football player in my first year of high school. I thought life couldn’t get much better. 
                I slowly gained weight through out high school and eventually into college. I ate because I liked food, I ate when I was sad or happy, and I ate because my parents were always setting restrictions on what I was allowed to eat. My mother would try to bargain with me. Once she told me that if I lost 20 pounds she would give me her sweater that I desperately wanted. I ate because I wanted to rebel. I think I was averaging about 10 pounds a year. I wanted to be an actor in high school and eventually went to college to pursue my dreams. I guess I was good at hiding my feelings about how I actually felt about myself. I was always happy, although my weight was a constant reminder that I really wasn’t. And my weight ballooned to well over 200 hundred pounds when I was in my third year of college. 
               This leads me to my second self-inflicted diet, or rather my teacher’s diet. My musical theater professor told me that no one is going to hire me as an actress unless I lost weight. My teacher ridiculed me into following the Atkins diet. I restricted my diet and took out any and all carbs. Carbohydrates were the devil to me when I was in college. I was taking a lot of dance classes as part of my college requirement and so the weight steadily came off. I got down to 217, which was not thin, but it felt great. I was wearing a size 14 and my stomach was relatively flat. I started dating the man of my dreams, whom I am still married to today. I felt like I had my whole life ahead of me. 
               It’s been over 10 years since I’ve seriously dieted again. I tried to lose weight for my wedding, but I think I only managed to take off about 15 pounds. I would have months where I would watch what I eat and workout a bit, but it never stuck. I might have lost 10 pounds here or there, but nothing really stuck and I eventually gained it all back and then some. I gave up pursuing acting full-time when I moved to LA 6 years ago and worked at several jobs I hated. I mean who’s going to hire a fat actress in Hollywood? However, I was lucky enough to continue to perform with my friend Joe in our comedy, cabaret act through out this entire time.
              It all turned around for me about a year ago. I was a manager at Sephora, I weighed almost 300 pounds, and I was sick of being miserable. I worked so much that I wasn’t able to pursue my acting career to the fullest and I felt like I was missing out on opportunity after opportunity. My feet hurt every day, I was tired all the time, and I would skip out on social events because I was too depressed to show my face. I was sick and tired of putting on a happy face for people when I was so miserable underneath. I told my husband I was going to quit my job and make a change. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I knew it started with losing weight. 
             I sought out a therapist who has changed my life, I started eating right, and I re-discovered my love for Richard Simmons. My friend Joe used to workout to Richard’s tapes when we were in college and he even gave me Richard Simmons Broadway Blast Off for my birthday one year. I have been a fan of Richard Simmons for years and I always wanted to take one of his classes, but I was too afraid to attend. I guess I was ashamed of what I looked like. I finally started taking classes in February. It only took me 5 and half years to get the courage to attend and I’ve been going to classes regularly ever since. 
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            Since February I’ve lost 45 pounds and I’ve dedicated my life to taking care of myself. I’m not giving up on my dreams of becoming an actress. I know what I want and I’m going to go after it, no matter what it takes. I’ve accepted the fact that I can never give up and I have to make eating right and exercising a lifestyle. I have to spend the rest of my life being conscious about what I put in my mouth. And I’m okay with that because I want to be truly happy. I am constantly inspired by Richard to keep going. Since I’ve lost weight I’ve regained my self-confidence and I just finished performing in a musical. I’m not afraid to assert myself and ask for what I want. And I hope I can inspire someone with my story one day.” 
           Cindy, thank you so much for sharing your story. I know you’ve inspired people already. And I know you’ll keep on going and keep, keep Sweatin’, Tonin’, and eating right and keep your leading lady star shining bright. See you at Slimmons!