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Time to Spring Back!




“I was strollin’ through the park one dayyyyyyyyyy…in the merry month of May…”

Happy May Day everybody!  Are you out going for strolls and enjoying the spring weather?  As all of nature is springing back to life, are you using this month to spring back too?

I want to introduce you to a couple of my clubhouse members who DID give themselves the opportunity to spring back.  First, I want to introduce you to Marsha (mistletoe).

As a child, Marsha’s size had been the obsessive focus of some well-intentioned relatives, which only made her overly self-conscious of her weight as she was growing up.  So Marsha’s attempts at weight loss began early in life.

Marsha says, “the quick weight loss gimmicks were detrimental to my physical and emotional well-being. Pills, shots, lectures, diet food, sugar substitutes, liquid diets, appetite suppressant candy, more pills, extra vitamins, and just plain starvation, were the norm during the years when my health should have been nurtured. Most of these mistaken paths were taken out of ignorance. I was lucky to survive. Some did not.” 

In 1998, Marsha went for a physical and learned her weight was up to 251 pounds.  Her doctor gave her prescriptions to lower her blood pressure and cholesterol, and to boost her hormone levels.  Marsha was not active.  The only movement she got was what it took to get her through her daily life.  She was very careful about doing anything where her size might be an issue…like sitting in booths, going through turnstiles, or riding amusement park rides.  She always tried to take care of her appearance. But, Marsha was uncomfortable with herself.  Because of that, she often avoided doing things that she would have really enjoyed doing.

Summer of 1998, when work resumed for Marsha at the high school where she works, a friend helped her begin her weight loss.  Marsha’s friend insisted that they join Weight Watchers.  This would be Marsha’s 10th time to join!  So, Marsha hesitated at first.  But she had always promised herself that someday she’d overcome her weight issues.  And she asked herself “If not now, when?”  The decision was made, and Marsha joined with her friend and began to lose weight, and to learn a lot about herself.


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“Hearts are sometimes broken. Mentors and dear companions die. Tragedies change our personal realities. But chocolate will always make us feel better…at least for a moment. I do not know why food is so comforting, but over the past eleven years, I truly have retrained my response to emotional issues from going straight into the kitchen to dealing with issues in a more thoughtful way. I still may end up in the kitchen, but by the time I get there, my nails are painted, I’ve listened to some good soul-purging music, I may have bought myself a little gift (with the money I’m now able to save on meds and junk food), and I’ve chopped a lot of vegetables. Truly the comfort I used to get from unhealthy food choices has faded. There is definitely a feeling of empowerment that comes from conquering an unhealthy habit.”

Slowly, the weight was coming off. By the end of the third year, Marsha hit a plateau that would last for over six years. “I had lost the first 75 pounds through good eating habits and walking, but my hip was not happy, making walking more painful every year. Almost two years ago, I started searching for my old copy of “Sweating to the Oldies II”. When I couldn’t find it, I searched for Richard Simmons on my computer, not expecting to discover his wonderful web site, and immediately became addicted to Richard’s daily messages. And I was so happy to work out with the new DVD I ordered – there was no pain whatsoever. Some moves in the Sweating tapes were very similar to moves recommended by a physical therapist. I wrote to Richard, and was invited to visit with him on his Lighten Up radio show on Easter Sunday, 2007. I continued holding onto that plateau, but feeling very healthy with 75 pounds gone forever.”

After a while, Marsha’s hip healed, and she’s now able to take walks again.  “After reading Richard’s motivational messages every day, eventually he even made me feel like I could lose some more weight. I reigned in my calorie intake just a bit tighter, and stepped up the exercise, and within a few short months, 15 more pounds were gone. At 58, I have lost 90 pounds and I am within 2 pounds of the goal my doctor has said is a healthy weight for me.” 

“In 1998, I was a walking pharmacy, but now most of my meds are gone. As I lost weight, my blood pressure came down, my cholesterol came down, and my hormones regulated themselves. The thyroid medicine, however, will always be my faithful friend. After losing that final 15 pounds, my blood work report came back totally normal. For the first time, the doctor had no recommendations for me, except to keep up my efforts. My three wonderful children and husband are proud of my accomplishment, which, in turn, reinforces the need to continue. The turnaround in my lifestyle has brought many blessings.”

“The Richard Simmons Clubhouse offers 24 hour motivation and support. Reading the Daily Message each morning is a happy ritual. When I can, I read the forums. They are filled with wonderful ideas from wonderful people. I’ve bought books, DVDs and fun products from the store site. I’ve sweated to the oldies. I’ve been energized by the Monday Night Chat room with Richard, and truly enjoy the emails that he regularly sends to his Monday Night Webbies, along with a personal note from him time to time. I have written in the private Journal area of the website, and the entries helped me recognize and be watchful for recurring self-sabotaging behaviors. I’ve participated in both of the challenges Richard has offered in 2009. But the most inspiring part of the Clubhouse is Richard himself! He really lays it all out there honestly for us. He is direct, and makes us face our own weaknesses. He makes us face the truth about weight loss, and there is great comfort in that. Richard is more comforting, actually, than chocolate.”

Wow Marsha,  thank you!  More comforting than chocolate?  That’s quite a compliment!  I’m very proud of all you’ve accomplished and I know your story will touch many people.  Keep up the good work!

Now let me introduce you all to Helen (TSTCCollegemom).  Helen always had weight problems as she was growing up.  She says she always wished she could be invisible to avoid the bullying and name calling.  Helen says she had two strikes against her because she had a weight problem as well as “buck teeth.”   And the kids gave her a hard time about both. 

Helen was always picked last for teams, and her only real friend was her brother.  He always ended up in fights because he was standing up for Helen.    So food became Helen’s friend.   When Helen was 11, her brother passed away from cystic fibrosis and she felt like she became an invisible child.   Helen’s grandmother used to look after her, and for a very long time, Helen felt that her grandmother was the only person who knew she existed. Her parents were in pain from her brother’s death.  Helen’s mother seemed centered only on herself, and her father turned to alcohol.

When Helen was 14, she took some diet pills that caused her to pass out.  It was very frightening for both Helen and her grandmother, and Helen never took those pills again.  Ultimately, Helen’s parents ended up divorcing.

Helen never had boyfriends in her teens, and didn’t go to her prom.  She ended up dropping out of school and says she now considers dropping out the dumbest mistake she ever made.

Helen married, and after having her third child, Helen’s weight got up to 255.  Her husband at the time bought her Deal A Meal and Sweatin’ to the Oldies as a Christmas present… in 1993, and Helen made weight loss her New Year’s resolution for 1994.  Soon, Helen was losing weight, and having fun doing it!  When she reached her halfway point, Helen came to Slimmons to meet me.  And then that same year (1995), Helen hit her goal weight of 130 and rewarded herself by coming on my Cruise to Lose.

Well, Helen ended up divorcing.  She said trying to maintain her loss was the real start of her battles.  Rather than staying on her healthy plan, Helen began to do unhealthy things and became anorexic.   Next, was bulimia.  Helen says she was a walking skeleton for a long time. 

Helen battled those eating disorders for two years.  Then, she was diagnosed with lupus!   The weight slowly started to creep back on.  20 pounds.  Then, 20 more.  Then, Helen got some devastating news.  Her father had been killed while walking across a street.  Helen turned to food again.  But then Helen came on a couple of my Cruise to Lose cruises, and began to lose weight again.   By 2001, Helen had lost the weight again and was back at her goal.

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Helen had married and divorced a second time.  Then Helen got married again…her third marriage.  Helen began to have some medical problems, and was put on prednisone and the weight began to come back on.  Then she was diagnosed with diabetes, and learned her thyroid was no longer functioning properly.  Her blood pressure was also out of control.  She began to regain the weight very quickly and was feeling sorry for herself because of her medical problems.   Her weight climbed up to 350 this time!  She was even using a scooter to get around, and had to be on oxygen.  Helen ended up having to have surgery for sleep apnea.   She became insulin dependent and was spending a lot of time in the hospital.  During one of Helen’s hospital stays, her grandmother died.  By then, Helen’s weight was up to 385!

January 1, 2007, Helen finally decided it was time to really take care of herself!  She got out her FoodMover and workout tapes and got started.  Exercising was tough for Helen at that weight. So, she started with Sit Tight.

Then, Helen decided to go back to school!  She enrolled in college with her son.  She even lived in the dorms!  She walked to classes and worked out in the gym with her son.   By September, she joined my clubhouse.

Helen was learning again to cook and prepare foods the healthy way, and learning to measure and watch her portions!  And Helen learned the importance of a positive attitude.   Helen was coming to my Monday chats and using the clubhouse for support, and really began to turn things around for herself.

Helen is now off insulin, and no longer uses oxygen.  And she doesn’t have to use a walker or scooter to get around anymore!    AND, Helen graduated with an A.A.S. degree… with honors!  By the time of her graduation, she was down to 180 pounds….just 30 pounds from her new goal of 150.

Helen is getting lots of support from the people in her town who have seen her transformation.  Now Helen has lost even more and is down to 155 for a total loss of 230 pounds.  Now Helen is also off of all her diabetic medications, and her blood pressure medicine has been reduced.  AND, Helen has been smoke free for five years!

Helen says, “There is no competition with myself or anyone else.  I love myself for who I am!  I am happy for who I am!  I just know to take one day at a time!  Plan one week at a time!  I have made a commitment with myself and to sticking to this plan for the rest of my life!  A commitment of living a healthy life!  I am a winner and I am gonna stay a winner for the rest of my life!”

Helen, I’m glad you realize you’re a winner.  And all you have to do to stay a winner is to just keep going strong, and continue to take care of yourself.

Marsha, and Helen, thank you both so much for sharing your stories with my readers.  I know you’ve inspired a lot of people with your stories.  And I’m so glad you’ve both made a decision to take care of yourselves.