On this Mother's Day, I have an urge to share my mother's inspirational story with you all. Sometimes I mention her briefly to clients and friends, but like those fitness magazine 'success stories', it's not really comprehensive until you witness someone you know change their life. Luckily I get to witness many people transform to a more positive lifestyle through my professional career. The guidance and encouragement I give you comes directly from my experience of seeing the people closest to me change their lives. Each and every member of my family has gone through extreme life transformations in the last few years, but today I'd especially like to highlight my mother's life story.
She is hard evidence that IT'S POSSIBLE. 'IT' representing anything you want to happen in your life. She knew living a healthy, happy life in a fit body was possible and made it happen. At her heaviest she was 236lbs and depressed. Now she is beginning a certification to be a yoga teacher and stronger, healthier, and happier than she has ever been. Read on for her personal account of overcoming lifelong challenges with weight loss, dieting, and body image.
***This Mother's Day MY MOM is YOUR inspiration***
At 236lbs in 1994
A healthy, happy, yoga teacher in training!
"My earliest memories are of being out of breath when I tried to run and play with the other kids, splitting the seams of my pants because they were always too tight, sweating profusely all of the time and always, always wanting more food to eat before I was even done with the first bite. My pediatrician put me on a diet at a very young age. At age 10 my physician prescribed amphetamines to curb my appetite. I was very ashamed of my body and my eating habits. Real food didn’t appeal to me as I had stuffed myself on candy, cake and chips and lots and lots of it. I had 20 cavities each time I went to the dentist from all of the sugar I was consuming.
I did every kind of diet that was available. I was a great diet follower and lost large amounts of weight at a time. I knew how to “white knuckle it”. And I gained it back faster than I lost it. I come from a long line of obese people. My mom was obese for most of her life until she was stricken with tongue cancer. Her obesity made her so miserable that after the horrors of tongue cancer surgery, radiation and subsequent deformity, she stated on many occasions that the cancer was worth having in order to live in the normal size body that she finally acquired. Her mother died of obesity related causes. Her brother died of obesity related causes.
In my late 40s I had gotten so large that the seat belts in the backseat of many cars no longer fit me. My knees hurt so badly that it was painful to climb stairs. I had constant backaches and neck aches. I would not go for walks, bike rides, dances or to parties with friends. I didn't have any clothes to wear that fit me, I didn't want to be seen in public and I was quite depressed. Heck, I needed to practically hoist myself out of the chair.
In 2001 I began again. My goal at that time was to embark on a sensible get healthy program. I began to follow Weight Watchers one more time and set out on an exercise program. I gradually lost 105 pounds. Then I learned that there was some evidence that certain people really did have addictions to certain foods. These foods trigger a chemical response in the brain that creates uncontrollable cravings. When I heard this evidence I knew they were talking about me. I learned to abstain from any substances with sugar, flour or wheat. I learned to eat whole foods that contained no artificial ingredients in controlled moderate portions. I connected with a 12 step support group and my life began to improve dramatically. I learned that there is a higher power that connects me to a universal spirit within and that this universal spirit is stronger than my ego. My daughter Elyse encouraged me to take yoga classes and do some core strengthening. She did some private coaching with me and I followed her suggestions, experiencing a relief from many of my aches and physical limitations after just a few sessions. One time I developed a sciatica pain and after her Thai Yoga Massage session, by the next morning the hip pain was completely gone.
When I first started yoga I had to modify almost every pose because of the pains in my body. I was not able to raise my right arm higher than my shoulder. I was not able to do plank pose because my wrists were too weak. I could not sit cross legged because my knees hurt. Now I am able to sit crossed leg in lotus pose. I am flexible, strong, limber and can easily do balance poses- even breaking through my fear of standing on my head! Clothes fit me beautifully. I am not yo-yoing and I wear the same size clothes each season. I am no longer insecure in developing new relationships and nurturing older ones. My relationships with my daughters, my husband, my brother and extended family have blossomed. At 56 years old I am able to keep up with well toned 20-year-olds in advanced yoga classes. I realize that I am capable of overcoming fears and old habits and do not have to let them control me. I am no longer the obese, sweaty, out of breath clumsy being that I was for the first 48 years of my life. I am embarking on an exciting challenge next month as I begin a yoga teacher certification training program.
I am oh, so grateful for my life today."