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Salute to Success ~ October 2009

       It's October!  The month of Halloween.  Lots of people dress up, and go to parties and haunted houses, watch scary movies, and try to frighten each other for fun.  But there's something I want you to be sure you are NOT afraid of this month!  I never want you to be afraid to START.  If you're going to lose your weight, and get healthier...well... you have to start!  Don't you?
 
       So this October, I want to share the story of a lady who was not afraid to start.  I'd like you to meet Wendy D.  (Kirksgirl).
 
 
       Wendy is the youngest of 5 kids.  She was a late in life baby.  She says, "I sort of always felt like I was 'less than' my brothers and sister."  Wendy grew up in an unusual place.  You see, she grew up from infancy in the family funeral home.  "I couldn't understand why we used to get in trouble for running and playing and crying like any normal kid would.  In our 'house' we were always told we had to be quiet.  When I'd ask why,  I was always given the same stern answer...'because there are people downstairs, and we have to be quiet because they are sad'.  As a little girl of 4 I could not understand why the 'the people's' emotions were so much more important than mine, and why I would get in trouble when I would expressed mine. But I stuffed them like I was told.  Of course, now I understand that 'the people' were grieving and that the service was in progress."  
 
       So at a young age Wendy was very confused on how to express her emotions and when it was ok to do so, and whether they were as important as others emotions, or not important at all.  This is when she first started using food for a release and comfort to her emotions and stress.  Wendy's first memory of abusing food was when she was very little around 5... "I had just gotten in trouble for playing too loudly, and I wanted candy too make me feel better...any kind of candy would do, even Flintstones vitamins or St. Joseph's aspirins.  My wonderful loving mother worked so hard at getting them as high and hidden as possible.  In her defense, I was, and still am a very determined little girl when it comes to my comforts.  And I'd climb like a little rock climber to get at them.  Well, needless to say...I lived.  Whew!  But grew to be overwhelmed by my emotions often.  I felt bad for 'the people' who were so sad downstairs, but....what about me?  So I ate."
 
       "As I got older my father and I clashed a lot.  We were very different.  He was a multitasking business man who ruled the house with a scowl, and I was a flower loving dreamer who liked to cuddle and find pictures in the clouds as they drifted above me.  He didn't like that about me, and called me lazy.  He used to say terrible things to me about my weight, and looks. And paint sad, dooming pictures of my future of loneliness with no husband 'If I didn't get that weight off'.  And told me of how I was 'lazy and would never amount to anything'.  He was a great provider, and shrewd business man, but not the warm tender father I was in need of.  I was a very sensitive little girl, and my skin wasn't thick enough to handle those words.  So I ate, and ate , and ate in an effort to find comfort and love.  He said more and more sad things as I grew bigger and older.  I remember when I was about 9 going to the store every other day or so and buying a family size box of Hostess Twinkies and eating  all of them at once, and hiding the box and wrappers under the bed and between the mattresses.  I used to 2 eat peanut butter sandwiches at a time with butter and peanut butter a half inch thick.  I would a family pack of Snickers bars while hiding in the bathroom."
 
       "Well needless to say I was a chubby kid, and the kids where so mean.  We used to have a horse, and the kids would say I was going to break it's back.  I loved my horse, I didn't want to hurt him or anyone else.  When other little kids would get picked up and twirled by the adults, I was told 'nooooo, you're too big.' So I ate and cried."
 
       "Well, life went on and contrary to my father's words, I met and fell in love with a wonderful man who thought I was beautiful, and smart, and loved me just as I was, and even managed to convince me that he  thought so too.  No small feat at that point, believe me, what a prince!  My father died 5 weeks before our wedding ceremony after a long battle with cancer.  And our best man tragically committed suicide 3 weeks before the ceremony.  And on top of that, my family wasn't speaking.  It was not the  happy time it should have been for us.  But the wedding went on as scheduled, I hadn't slept in weeks and weeks, and the lack of knowing how to cope with my scrambled emotions took it's toll.  I really think that was the beginning of what would later be called fibromyalgia."  
 
      "I had bought my family's flower shop from the estate after my parents died.  The only trouble was, I hated owning it.  It was demanding and quite physical and having still not dealt with the emotions of the past was just more stress.  I was a good designer, and I loved the customers, but not a happy owner.  After a lifetime of working there since I was 8 years old,  I made it 5 years as owner and proved to myself that I could do it.  But in the mean time, I was miserable and still not sleeping through the night.  I would come home from work very sore, and tired.  So I ate to sooth my pain and fatigue. Finally I decided the business world would have to steam roll on with out me, and I sold the business, and retired.  It was a hard decision, but the right one.  The stress of all those years growing up, and the poor self esteem was taking it's toll."
 
      By this time Wendy was 32 years old, and  260 pounds and she hurt all over.  She was fatigued and tired all the time.  She had been the doctor, and they told her it was her weight that was the problem. So she ate. 
 

      "One day my wonderful hubby came home with what was meant to be great news.  He and his co workers 'had won a trip at work and we were all going to Cancun all expenses paid!!!  My reaction was not what he thought it would be.  I announced "I don't want to go, I'm too fat", and started crying.  The thought of a 260 pound me laying on the beach with those other wives who I knew to be thin and pretty and contemporary made me cry." 
 
      "And at that moment as I said the words 'I don't want to go,' I realized I had just given up my dreams because I was 'too fat'.  My dream to retire early and travel were going down the tubes because I didn't know how to express my emotions in other ways but eating.  It was the only way I had learned to cope since childhood. And now it was turning on me.  The food I went to, and still want to run to for comfort had stolen my dreams!  And I saw my life and my situation as if from above myself as a whole picture.  A really sad picture with me as the star.  Well, that wasn't going to be the end of me, I thought!!!!  It was too much like that sad picture my father had painted for me, and I wasn't going to let that dream come true.  Remember that determined little girl who wanted her treats?...she showed up again, with a brand new mission.  A much healthier mission!"
 
      "That day I dusted off my Sweatin' the The Oldies video from failed attempts gone by, and started to exercise like I meant it!  I could only do a couple of songs at a time, and had to take rests.  But food was not going to do this to me!!  I was tired and sore, but determined.  I started cutting my portions in half, and rediscovered my forgotten love for vegetables.  Eventually I needed to learn nutrition and portions.  Cutting back wasn't enough any more.  I had been getting Richard's quarterly newsletters in the mail at the time.  I just loved them!!!  They inspired me so much!  In them was always a success story, and I really loved those!!  (I've kept every copy in fact!)"
 
       "Finally one day I went to the doctor because even though I had lost 75 lbs., I was still in so much pain, and so tired.  I thought maybe I kept hurting myself while I was working out.  She did lots of tests and everything came out ok.  My blood pressure had improved, and cholesterol was wonderful, but, I didn't feel as good as I looked, I was very sore and fatigued.  I eventually got diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Mixed Connective Tissue disease.  Plus osteoarthritis, and a torn acl from an old injury on my horse that never got repaired.  She said that my exercise was probably keeping the worst of the symptoms away, and the best medicine I could possibly give myself.   And she encouraged me whole heartedly to continue.  And so I did, and I also learn more specifically to care for myself and my body.  Eating less simple carbs, using moist heat, getting the sleep I needed, and most importantly exercising and stretching, and meditation to manage and learn from my emotions." 
 
      "I kept going at it slowly and finally hit my goal weight of 148 lbs in January of 2000.  It took 2 years to get it off because I had to go slow, and manage my pain, but I made it, I had carved a path out!  Some days I would have to do the tape sitting, and some days I could do the dancing, but could only use one arm.  Or do one song sitting and one standing, what ever I had to do.  I just adapted to what the day bought...that determined little girl inside was growing up to be a determined woman!"
 
      "I was a silent member of the clubhouse by then, and had seen that Richard was looking for stories for his upcoming infomercial.  Wow!  I thought...wouldn't that be cool!!!!  I sat grinning at the screen and something came over me and I started typing.  I wrote Richard and told him my story up to that point, and pressed 'send'.... It was gone...what had I done???....This was not like me to toot my own horn!  Well, weeks passed and nothing came of it, and I had forgotten I had that moment of  crazy recklessness.  Then the phone rang one afternoon.  It was someone named Linda form Richard Simmons!!!  I swear I almost dropped my hot water bottle!!!  LOL!  Well, long story short, I got to go the CA and meet Richard and Linda, and so many other wonderful women who still influence me to this day. And be in his infomercial...me!!  Wow!  It was so great, truly one of the highlights of my life to this day!"
 
      "Life continued as it tends to do, and I maintained my weight for many years all the while doing Richard's tapes faithfully, and managing my pain and emotions and food.   It was never easy, but well worth it to feel better than I had at 32!"
 
       "Then I hit 44 years old...all my healthy habits were getting harder to keep up.  I had left the clubhouse for a long time (huge mistake!!) and tried to go it on my own.  Well, you know those woman who say it gets harder after 40?...they are right.  My body started changing and aging and the osteoarthritis has worn my knee down to the bones.  I started to gain a little weight here and there.  And those little here and there's turned into about 40 pounds and huge case of sadness.  I was very stuck and embarrassed because from the outside it looked like I didn't care any more about my past achievement.  But I did, I cared  a lot.  I was just lost, and in new territory, I had never had a 44 year old body before.  I had kept my work outs up the whole time because I knew from experience that was the best medicine for my joints and the fibromyalgia.  By then I had well learned that movement, especially pain free movement is a gift, not right, and such a gift should not be wasted and is worth working for and keeping."
 
      "So I came back to the clubhouse in an effort to find inspiration to get my head and eating back in line.  It was a very good move.  The wonderful women and men here grabbed my hand when I needed help, pulled me to my feet and filled my head with healthy thoughts again.  I'm forever grateful to the friends that I have made here, and those I will continue to make for it is here that I can be sure help will find me when I need it."
 
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"I came back and started posting and participating in Septemberish of 2008, and with the hard work and the realization that as life changes, so must my program.  I reinstated my healthy eating, and started to add toning to my work outs that had previously only included cardio and stretching.   I managed to lose 23 pounds and hit my new goal weight of 167 in June.  I hope to lower that goal soon, but for now I trust that when the road curves unexpectedly, I will always find my way back to being healthy.  I don't know what life will throw at me or my body next...but I will adjust, and I'll always keep vigilant to the signs of the 'eaties' lurking in the corners of my mind.  I have the tools now.  I have great support in the Clubhouse and at home, I have insight meditation to teach me about how to feel and manage my emotions, I'm even in training to teach it!  I have Richard to help me know how to eat, and move my body, and I have that determined little girl who grew up to be a determined woman who won't give up.  I'm not perfect, slip ups still happen, but I know I have a place where someone will always be there to grab my hand.  All I have to do is get it in the air.  Thank you to Richard and the webbies for that!  To be continued..."
 
     And Wendy, I know you WILL continue!  I'm so glad you weren't afraid to start...and when you needed to, you weren't afraid to start again!  Keep going Sweet Wendy!  I thank you for sharing your story with our readers this month.  I know you have motivated many!
 
Love,