"I can do things I never thought of doing before!"
I'm also a performer at Universal Orlando! I auditioned a couple of years ago, and they hired me on the spot! I now portray several characters there - Thing 1 and Thing 2, Woody Woodpecker, and Broom Hilda. Occasionally I do Rocky the Flying Squirrel, too, but they only bring Rocky out for special occasions, because his costume weighs 30 pounds. It's a tough workout, and I don't think I could do it if I hadn't lost weight!
I was always chunky, except when I was born prematurely and weighed 4 pounds. My mom and dad and the rest of the family were always afraid that I was going to be sickly, so they always fed me a lot. I was never sickly! I always had a nice round face and big thighs. I became a chubby, chunky child because they overfed me.
In high school, my weight began to bother me, so I started doing crazy diets like the grapefruit diet or just not eating, but I still was never a good weight. I tried to be athletic. They put me in swimming, but I still ate. I think it was because I was overfed from birth. Overeating was a habit!
After I had my first child, I discovered that if I exercised by walking and running obsessively and if I ate only 1 meal a day, I could lose weight. The meal might be something really strange, like a box of cookies and a bag of potato chips or a whole coconut cake or a jar of peanut butter.
In the 70's, I got into running marathons. People were like, "You're running?" I'd answer, "Yeah, I'm running so I can eat!" I would run 10-15 miles before I went to work. A lot of times I would leave my car and run the 5 miles home after work. I drank Tab and Fresca, but I wouldn't eat all day. I found I could be very thin if I did that.
I knew better than to do that! I taught health and nutrition to kids, but it had become my obsession. I had to do at least 10 miles a day so I could keep my weight down, and there were weeks when I would run 110 miles! I even did 50-mile races! It took me about 9 to 9-and-a-half hours to run that far. My husband would go with me, because he was doing marathons, too. I'd eat M&Ms and cookies while I was running! You just kind of zone out when you're doing those long runs. When you're doing that, anything's possible in your mind. In the fall of '95, I did an 8-hour walk/run where the goal was to see how many miles you could cover in 8 hours. I did 34 miles, but that was the last time I did a long run.
Eventually, I couldn't keep it up. I blew out my knees. My weight started coming back on, and it was very, very depressing. When I realized I couldn't keep the weight off, I started eating even more. My family would say, "Oh, what's wrong with you?" At one point in '95, I was having difficulty walking because of my knees. I had to take the elevator to my classroom because I couldn't bend my knees to walk up the stairs. That's when my weight started going up, and I never got on the scale.
I never went to the doctor, either, but in '96, I needed to have double knee surgery, and I had to go to the orthopedist. The orthopedist said, "No more running!" When you're used to doing all that exercise and having all those endorphins, it's very difficult when you have to s. I was well over 200 pounds by then, and I knew I needed to do something about it, but I waited a couple more years. I got to the point where I didn't know how much I weighed. I had no clothes, so I'd wear pants that would stretch out. I must have looked horrible!
I finally reached a turning point at the end of 1997. My grandson was coming for a visit from Indiana. He wanted to go to theme parks, and I couldn't fit through the turnstiles or on a roller coaster or anything like that! My knees should have been well from the surgery by then, but I still couldn't even walk out to the mailbox to get the mail, let alone walk all around a theme park! At that same time, I had an elderly friend who was rather large, and at Christmas, she gave me some of her old clothes. They were sizes 2X and 3X. I never knew those sizes existed, but they fit me, and I thought, "Oh, my God. I've got to do something about this.
"Richard was on QVC on New Year's Eve that year! It was the night before January 1, 1998. I had watched Richard's show back in the 80's, so I ordered whatever he had at QVC that night. I believe it was "Dance Your Pants Off" and Deal-a-Meal.
The next day, I went out with my grandson to walk! I made it about 3 houses down the street, and we turned around and came back because of the pain in my knees. Once the tapes I'd ordered arrived, I started doing them every day! Whether I just stood and moved my arms or moved my whole body, I pushed myself to finish the whole tape. I continued to walk, just adding another couple of houses, another block here, or another block there.
I changed my eating and went strictly by what was allowed on my Deal-a-Meal! I had Richard's 2 original spiral bound cookbooks, and I started choosing something different to cook for dinner every single night. I didn't weigh myself until I had been on Richard's program for 2 months, and at that point, I was 235. I don't know how much higher my weight was when I first started, but 235 was the highest weight that I knew about.
At that time, Dave and I were traveling for a publishing company and training teachers to use the materials. Sometimes we'd be gone 2-3 days in a row. In the past, we had just sped at fast food restaurants, but after I started Richard's program, I said, "No more!" I started planning our food ahead, thinking of where we'd be the next day and where we could eat something healthy. I started packing food to take with us, and instead of sping at fast food restaurants, we started sping at grocery stores! We'd buy some of the prepared produce, like cut up carrots and celery or fruit. At dinner, we'd eat out at a nice restaurant instead of just grabbing a hamburger, and I would try to order the best salad on the menu. I still do that! We weren't perfect. Sometimes we'd still grab fast food, but we did much better, and slowly the weight came off!
Meanwhile, I did Richard's tapes every single day, and I was walking more and more. I started walking 8-10 miles a day, and in January of 2000, I was able to do the Disney marathon with my husband! We walked 26.2 miles in a little over 6 hours! That was such a high, because I never thought I'd be able to do that again, but I did!
In 2000, I also went on my first Cruise to Lose with Richard! I was at my lowest weight of 130 at that time. Then my youngest daughter got pregnant, and I was worried about her. During that time, I started eating a little more. After her daughter, Sydney, was born, I pretty much sped Richard's program. I was taking care of Sydney, and my FoodMover sat in the corner along with my tapes, and walking was always in the back of my mind. I gained about 25-30 pounds back.
In 2001, I went on another Cruise to Lose, and I was so embarrassed that I had gained weight, but just going on that cruise helped me get started again! I have made some life long friends on Richard's cruises. We stay in touch over the year and meet each year on the cruise. I realized that I needed to drag out the baby jogger and just get back into Richard's program.
I started walking again and doing the tapes again, and I got rid of the junk food and started using the FoodMover. I started planning day by day again, just making sure before I went to bed that I knew what I was going to do the next day. I also started sending Richard my food sheets. Writing it down and having him look it over helped me take that next step in making sure I was eating what I was counting on my FoodMover, as well as paying closer attention to daily exercise. Before long, I had lost the weight again!
I still visualize in my mind what the next day's going to be. "I know I'm going to walk. I know I'm going to do a longer tape." I also plan what I'm going to do with Sydney and what I'm going to do with the food. Dave's real good about planning the food with me. He has stood by me through all my ups and downs; we are soul mates. I try to plan at least the night before, if not even earlier. I think that's what's keeping me on track this time!
In 2002, I walked a half marathon by myself, because I wanted to stay in touch with something I truly loved. It's about being out there alone and going from point A to point B. It clears your mind and gives you a chance to dream and think and be creative and plan! That was the last time I did a long distance. Now I just walk a 4-mile route in the neighborhood. I take the stroller, and Sydney goes with me. She walks part of it, too! I don't feel the compelling need to put in the 8-10 miles anymore. I don't need to! I think I have a good mix of a little bit of walking and almost an hour of aerobics. I try to do the toning every day, too.
I had a little blip in my weight last year. I gained about 10-12 pounds for no reason! There was no change in any of my activities or my food. The doctor thinks it was a problem I was having with my blood pressure. He changed my medication, and the weight came off again!
I've learned that there's always going to be something, whether it's a medical thing or an emotional thing. My mom had some problems last fall, and my brother-in-law also had a series of strokes and was diagnosed with lupus last fall. Being so far away, it was easy to reach for the food to comfort me. I did just that a few times but realized that my eating an entire bag of cookies or a half-gallon of ice cream would not change their health problems. I could help more if I stayed healthy and on track.
There are things that are just going to come up that you can't control, and eating doesn't help! I think I have finally realized that, at least for now. Eating over it doesn't work, and in some cases, it makes it worse, because you feel really bad about yourself, and the cycle starts all over again. There's always something that could trigger that behavior, and you can't get away from it, so you just have to learn to deal with it.
Because I am an obsessive compulsive person, I would like to lose a couple more pounds to be at 130, but realistically, I believe that I'm at goal! I think I'm getting to the point where I'm happy with who I am most of the time. I do know what my body needs to have enough energy to do what I do every day - to perform or teach - and I try to eat only those foods that give me that fuel. That's where my FoodMover comes in, because the food's just right there. I still don't like the scale. I only get on it once at the beginning of the week and once at the end before I sent my food sheet to Richard.
I have so much more energy now! I feel like I can do anything! I am one of the oldest female animators at Universal, and we have to audition every year. Now that I do characters, I know that if I don't fit into my costume, I don't have a job. When we lined up by height at the last audition, I was the same weight as the 18-year-old standing next to me. I learned the dance with all of those younger people, and I kept up with them and performed well! When I tell them that I'm 53, they say, "No way! You're more active than anybody else here!"
I can do things I never thought of doing before! I can ride every roller coaster. I can fit through the turnstiles. There was a day last summer when I was lifting myself out of my swimming pool, and I caught my reflection in the patio doors and didn't recognize myself. I thought, "Who is in my house?" I finally realized, "Oh! That's me!" I had always avoided my reflection before, whether it was in a mirror or in a store window as I walked by. For my birthday last year, my husband gave me a full length mirror, and I use it! That was the best ever. I believe I got my body image from TV, but I want Sydney to have a good body image. We get out of the shower and look at ourselves in the mirror. I'm changing my inner voice to say, "I'm okay! I don't have to be 100 pounds." Sydney says, "I'm gorgeous! I'm beautiful! I love myself!"
I see so many overweight kids, so I'm trying to be a good role model for Sydney and teach her good eating habits. She recently told me that she went to the dentist, and he asked her what her favorite foods are, and she said, "Spaghetti and broccoli!" If I don't give her a vegetable and fruit on her plate, she asks for it. She knows that the green beans and the blueberries are something she likes, and she would rather have those!
My next goal is to become an aerobics instructor! I took Hoot Camp last spring, and I'm now studying for the AFAA exam. I'd also like to go hiking, with Dave, in Yellowstone National Park. I want to write a children's book, too, but I haven't gotten to that yet.
If I could tell people something to help them get their lives in order, I'd say, "Have a plan! Plan the food! Plan the exercise!" I also try to avoid fast food restaurants. I just don't buy food at them anymore! Try to drive past just one fast food restaurant. Even if you eat at some of them, at least drive past one. Next week, add another one! Take things one day at a time, an hour at a time, or a minute at a time. Another day, another step. I've seen so many people in my family with problems this year, I've learned that if you have another day, you have that day to start over again! I now know that every day counts!
I can't thank Richard enough for the tools, the motivation, and the support to make the changes I've made. I only wish everyone had a chance to step into their bodies at their goal weight to see how it's all worth it and how it can be achieved one day at a time!
SUSAN'S 3 TIPS FOR SUCCESS!
1. Make a plan! Write it out or lay it out in your head. Plan not only where you want to be at this time next year, but what you're going to eat tomorrow, what exercise you're going to do, what your schedule is, and where you can fit things in.
2. Stay basic with the food and avoid fast food! Grocery stores make it easy now. They have celery, carrots, and other veggies and fruits already cut up for you. It used to take a lot of work to prepare vegetables and fruits, but now it doesn't take any more effort than opening a bag of Oreos!
3. Develop a positive internal voice! Even if you're telling yourself negative things, start to tell yourself at least one good thing every day. I've worked up to a whole routine I do with myself when I'm brushing my teeth or when I'm walking, saying things like, "I am okay. I look okay. I'm doing great!"