There are not words to express the appreciation and elation in my life right now. I never would have imagined life to be the way it is today. When I walked into Metabolic Research Center in Murfreesboro, TN on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2011 I had to do it for me - thus the title of my blog. I needed to learn to love myself. Now what I realize is that not only have I learned to love myself, but that my self-worth, self-esteem, and value have grown exponentially. More importantly my relationship with God has strengthened. He’s always been beside me, yet I haven’t always been in the right direction. When I try to be in control it doesn’t work. When I give it all to God to handle there is a peace I have that’s unexplainable.
I wanted to try to write everything down to this point so I have a record of it all. It’s still all so surreal and the most humbling experience. Now it is an honor to share my experiences with others to encourage good health.
The way things have gone to date:
30 years overweight to morbidly obese
Joined TOPS October 2005 – continued to yo-yo diet
Joined MRC February 14, 2011
Made the remark to friend after 2012 New Year’s – no resolution – “The Sky is the Limit!!” (Had NO clue how true that statement would wind up to be!)
May 2012 TOPS won TN State Division 1 (over 300 pounds) First Place - Memphis, TN
May 2012 – Found Arm Girdles!! Huge ego boost, had been girdling my stomach and legs excess skin for some time
July 2012 TOPS won International Division 1 First Place – San Diego, Ca – incredible opportunity to share my story and be an encouragement to others
Visited Hollywood Blvd with family on trip to California
October 2012 Visited a plastic surgeon – too expensive for corrective procedure – insure won’t cover
October 2012 Wrote to TOPS President Barb Cady to encourage TOPS to work with legislation for insurance to cover procedures with specific stipulations and requirements met, response after discussed at board meeting was it was too big for them to tackle
October 2012 – TOPS – received Century Award – a beautiful pendant necklace in honor of losing 100 pounds and keeping it off for 52 consecutive weeks or longer (VERY emotional – amazing honor for accomplishment)
December 2012 Submitted story to The Doctors TV show
December 2012 Contacted by The Doctors – interested in my story – supplied lots of information and pictures
December 2012 Reached weight loss goal via TOPS! Became a KOPS!!
February 2013 Was flown, alone, to Los Angeles, Ca with drivers, hotel, etc. to shoot my back story and appear on the episode SKIN: Feed It, Fix It, Tuck It – as THE guest for the Tuck It segment – was generously offered Dr. Ordon’s professional assistance to remove stomach and arm skin
Stayed at the Loew’s Hollywood – where God had allowed me to be months before so I would have the confidence to be there all by myself – even ate a few meals ALONE!! (Huge accomplishment for me) Had a free day where I saw a taping of The Price is Right and Extra – with Mario Lopez interviewing Mark Wahlburg and Sean Combs! WALKED back to hotel about 4 miles because I could, physically and mentally.
March 2013 Interviewed for the Daily News Journal at Metabolic Research Center – huge article in Business Section
March 2013 Interviewed by Tennessee State University (employer) with story published on their web page, Facebook, etc.
March 2013 Interviewed by The Murfreesboro Post – appeared on the FRONT page with great article inside
March 2013 Interviewed by The Daily Corinthian – appeared on the FRONT page with story
March 2013 Interviewed by Channel 2 News which aired several times over a couple days
March 20, 2013 The Doctors episode aired – watched with friends (Available on the website www.thedoctorstv.com – search for the title of episode above to watch 2 clips)
April 2013 – TOPS was crowned TN State Queen (Their records, lost a few pounds not recorded, 163.75 pounds) - also participated in the Before and After Parade, recognized as a Century Award recipient, graduated as KOPS, started the Circle of Light with the TOPS TN State King
May 2013 – Started a Facebook Group that turned to a Facebook page to stay accountable for everything I eat, share recipes with pictures sometimes, encourage healthy eating and self worth, trying to help and make a difference, bring awareness to healthy living www.facebook.com/heathersheatlhyhabitsdoingitforme
June 2013 – Interviewed by The Independent Appeal – appeared on the Front Page with story
July 4, 2013 – Was in TWO parades in a convertible!
July 2013 – Attended TOPS International Recognition Days in Calgary, Alberta, Canada as TN State Queen – also participated in the Before and After Parade, recognized as a Century Award recipient (cried as “The Climb” was sung to all recipients) and participated in my first International Circle of Light
July 29, 2013 – Returned to Los Angeles, California and drove with friend to Rancho Mirage
July 30, 2013 – Consultation with Dr. Drew Ordon and Dr. Ritu Chopra at The Plastic Surgery Institute
July 31, 2013 – Life changing, figure altering, corrective surgery, to remove excess skin: panniculectomy – removal of stomach tissue and correction of two hernias AND bilateral brachioplasty – removal of upper arm skin and excess under armpit and down side
Many asked me prior to the surgery about being scared or nervous. I truly had given it to God for a calm and peace through the process of filming, photos and after-care. I woke up skinny! How many times have I wished I could wake up skinny? It finally worked, after I put in a lot of work on myself. I felt like I had been in a magic show and my middle had been removed. J
August 1-13, 2013 – Recover at Rancho Las Palmas Resort, with assistance from nurse Shirley a few days and my friend Trish – not really any pain, just discomfort and mobility restriction which have lead to sleep deprivation – “It’s temporary”
Encased in compression belt over stomach and hip area and in compression vest from wrist to hip
Through discussion with others having had similar procedures the biggest complaint was the compression wear. God has prepared me through constricting the excess skin from bouncing around by girdling which also prevented rashes and back pain. The compression wear is not uncomfortable – it’s a huge hug from God.
August 14, 2013 – Return to Tn to continue to recover
August 17, 2013 – First public appearance at a local TOPS function where I was able to speak
August 21, 2013 – Check up at family doctor to be able to return to work on Monday, August 26, 2013
September – November – TOPS Speaking engagements across the state of TN at functions, maybe more at the Chapter level
Date TBD – Future return to Los Angeles, Ca - appearance for the big “Reveal” on an upcoming episode of The Doctors (until then…. I must avoid having my picture taken where my body, the results, can be seen)
Well, there you have it. There might be something I missed. It’s hard to believe the way things have all worked out just from losing weight. I couldn’t have done it without God guiding me and giving me the strength to stay focused, fight temptations and go all the way. This is it! It’s still a daily battle and I expect health and nutrition to always be my focus. When asked what was the hardest part I still will say-today. I’ve never been a “normal” sized adult. It seems to have been easier to lose the weight than it is to maintain within a few pounds. I am Doing it for ME!
What does your future hold from making continuous healthy choices for your body, losing weight if necessary? Share your story with others. It’s a great feeling to have someone tell you that You are their inspiration.
I have much to catch up on as time allows but had this come to me this morning so I had to share. Much love for you, but love yourself even more!
What a blessing it is to be alive today. I was so very fortunate to not have any severe health scare to finally “make” me wise up to lose weight. At my maximum recorded weight I tipped the scales at 367.5 pounds. I won’t do all the comparisons of weight but that’s a lot of sticks of butter! It’s also about 45 gallons of milk! Wow! That brings it into perspective. I have lost 170 pounds – over 21 gallons of that milk is GONE!!
So today, here I am two days away from the flying to California for what will surely be a life changing experience. Since I have lost weight it seems that there are numerous things that I notice, countless events that have altered my life, my views and my beliefs. I see differently now with an open mind and deep appreciation. My relationship with God has been increased beyond measure. My relationship with myself has changed to where I really like ME now. I am comfortable with who I am and the person that I’ve become. Excess weight and now excess skin, does not make me the person that I am but has made my attitude and outlook different for sure. After unsuccessfully attempting to lose weight more times than I can even tally, I have found victory in “Doing it for ME!” I have put myself first and foremost which I never did before. It sounds selfish but it’s not. By focusing on my health – mental, physical and emotional, my value and worth have improved tremendously, in turn, my family is better off because I am obviously more capable to do things with them and have increased my life expectancy by years if not decades.
Monday with my traveling companion, Trish Marshall, we will get to Los Angeles, California and meander to Rancho Mirage to settle into our home away from home for over 2 weeks. On Tuesday I will have a consultation with Dr. Andrew Ordon. (If you don’t already know a quick update: I sent my story into The Doctors; they contacted me and after numerous emails, calls, pictures, and details, I appeared on an episode “Skin: Feed It, Fix It, Tuck It” where I was the feature guest on the “Tuck It” segment; I was generously offered his service for corrective surgery to remove excess skin.) Wednesday, July 31, 2013 I will have corrective surgery. It is corrective, not cosmetic. The excess skin is as mentally debilitating as the excess weight was physically debilitating. It’s not for vanity but for functionality.
Today as I was getting dressed I was more aware of my routine, thinking about not having to do this anymore. I have done this for so long it’s just habit now. First off when I take a shower my arms flop and sway as I’m washing my hair – that will be “fixed”. Then I have to lift the excess skin on my stomach to be able to get clean – that will be “fixed” too. Trivial maybe to others, but it will be life changing for my daily routine and hard to even imagine not having those problems hanging around any longer. Back to my routine, so you can get an idea of my layers and tucking – hiding of the truth if I dare say. Panties are an obvious. They are put on after powdering under my flap/apron of skin. Next I will put a little powder in my hands and rub my upper arms. I will then put on what I refer to as my sleeves. This wonderful invention has changed my life and my self confidence by constricting the excess skin on my arms into a more firm, fit, contoured shape. I will then pull up the bra and adjust my breasts to look as “normal” as I can. After my arms and breasts are neatly tucked away, I can then step into my waist high girdle. This is pulled up to meet my bra. Then I adjust the skin on my stomach and legs of the girdle that go down mid-thigh. Next I put on a tight fitting tank top and adjust the excess skin under my armpits, on my sides, to be more contoured to not show under clothes with the sides of my bra and the tank. Finally I can get dressed. Whew…… this is not an easy task but makes me more mentally capable to face the world, if even at home.
The reality comes back, no matter how I look and my self-confidence level, every time that I have to use the restroom. I have to tuck, shove and adjust my stomach back into hiding. At bedtime I am continually reminded of my past as the layers come off one by one. The truth comes back, maybe not to everyone else but to me. No one ever warned me of the remnants that would be left after losing a lot of weight. It’s disheartening to think about all the others out there that are living with the excess skin condition I have, much less if it’s worse than or not as bad as mine. I know that the girdling is giving me a false self-confidence to get through the day but it has prevented rashes and back pain that I have heard come with the weight of the skin “hanging” around and shaking about during the day.
I wanted to share my experience as my story, my journey, is an open book. If my situations can be of assistance, guidance, encouragement or inspiration to others I feel humbled to be the vessel to do so, a way that I can give back and pay it forward. I completely give God the credit for getting me to this point and beyond. Truly I am holding on for the ride not knowing where this will take me. Another chapter of my life is about to begin….
What chapter are you on? Are you living your life for God? Are you making excuses for not eating right and treating your body like God has intended for us to be able to serve him? To serve others? It took me “weigh” too long to figure it out and I am appreciative for the opportunities that have happened and those that are before me. Don’t “weight” too long to figure out that you control your own weight. No one else is feeding you. Only you have the ability to make the changes that are beneficial for your body. Love yourself. YOU are Worthy! I have been, and will continue to be “Doing it for ME!”
I’m at the Nashville airport getting ready, well waiting, to start an adventure of a lifetime. I seem to be quite leased lately with several of those and more yet to be. It is so very humbling to have all these amazing opportunities for finally learning to care about myself. The past few months have been incredible and such a blessing to have succeeded to lose almost half of myself. It’s a joy to try to encourage and inspire others to do the same through different venues, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
If you haven’t figured this out about me I love to write. In response, or study about the term being “excused” I wanted to share some thoughts. For those that aren’t familiar with the term - as a member of TOPS when you have to miss a weigh-in/meeting your chart is marked “excused.” I evaluate and look at things differently now when it comes to weight loss and keeping off pounds sensibly. Therefore I will share some observations from the side of success that are only intended to bring awareness and thought to my health and yours on the topic of being “excused”.
I hope as you are reading this that you are doing well. You have come to this site for help, for encouragement, for truth and for guidance towards a healthier life-style. I pray that my words, my journey and experiences will relate to you somehow that you too can find success in reaching your goals towards a healthier you.
No matter what personal issues are going on in my life I seek to find the strength, through fervent prayer, to stay positive and go forward. Looking back doesn’t do a lot of good mentally and it sure won’t change what history has been made. Get up, brush off and move on! I have to push through and go on - for me. I don’t mean to sound selfish but life isn’t easy. Life hasn’t been full of happiness and butterflies to this point but it’s my choice to find it from this day forward. No one else can do it for me - but me. It’s hard to evaluate your life in terms of comparing how you would treat/feed others or even a pet. Sometimes it’s easier to punish our bodies through bad choices but would we try to instill or force those same habits or actions on another? Unlikely.
There have been countless changes in me physically with losing a lot of weight that are visible to the world but on a personal level - wow! I never used to really look in the mirror because I didn’t like what I saw on the outside, knowing all along there was a valuable worthy person trapped inside. Now I have been allowed, blessed, given, this amazing opportunity to use my story to try to encourage and help others. The thing I’m learning now is that it’s not about the physical form as much as it’s been about my personal growth and faith. If someone doesn’t like the “new” me, that isn’t my problem. Does it hurt YES! Does it hurt enough to punish my body with overeating or dwelling on issues? NO! Giving it ALL to GOD gives me a calm peace that’s quite hard to explain. I am so appreciative of having been given another day to reach out to you, anyone, that needs some encouragement to fight whatever health condition and life circumstances that you are facing. We all have a purpose. We all are here for a reason. Even when we feel alone we never are. Reach out and GOD is there to hold your hand, to hear your prayers and pleas, to be a friend when no one else seems to be.
I am a much more confident, viable, worthy person than I thought I was 2 1/2 years ago and previously. Beyond and against some peoples wishes - I have done this for me and will continue to do so, regardless. The sky is the limit and the best is yet to come.
The PAST is your lesson.
The PRESENT is your gift.
The FUTURE is your motivation.
Well today I got some news that was really quite crushing. Actually the email came last night but I didn’t have the opportunity to check it till this afternoon. My surgery, again, is postponed and will have to be rescheduled. I am a believer that everything happens for a reason. I have been very upset today trying to figure out the circumstance. It will all be okay some how, some way, some day. I really want to be rational and keep positive about the situation. Something that was weird, especially for me, was that all I wanted to do was to go walking. It wasn’t possible at the time.
I responded on my FB page about my senior picture that i posted. A friend complimented me that I look better now. My response….
I am smaller now than when in high school. Pretty crazy it took me 30+ years to do it. I really put my body through a lot, emotionally and physically. The torment, etc of growing up over weight is just horrible. I truly wouldn’t wish it on anyone: being left out, not having invites, being uncomfortable in desks, not being able to wear the “in” clothes…. The list could go on and on. Now when I see a child overweight I want to just talk to them and tell them to do it while they are young to not miss out on life and opportunities. I am so thankful to have a second chance and a new beginning, ready to face the world and not hide away.
Now it makes me sad, so very sad, to reflect on my missed years of life and living that was restricted by the permanent “fat suit” that I wore. It was my shield and protector at the time. I hid behind, or in there, but who or why was I hiding? I don’t know and at this point it doesn’t really matter because it can’t be changed. The youth of today have even more struggles than I did I think, not with just the social aspect of the results of being heavy but the temptations available and put in front of them/us today.
Its better late than never!
It isn’t fair that I don’t get to eat what everyone else eats. Does it make me mad? Absolutely! Did I use to eat all that “stuff”? Well… absolutely. Did it produce an outcome, or shall we say side-effect, or even better a body-effect, that I didn’t want? Again I say… Absolutely! Externally everyone could see what was going on but internally, in private, no one really knows what it does to your mind, your self worth, your self value unless you too are, or were, overweight. Keep n mind when I say overweight, for my situation I pretty much could say that I was 200 pounds overweight. I will hope to hit the scales one day with a solid 200 pounds gone, if my body allows it o happen.
So now what can we do for these children suffering with weight issues today? Cheap food is usually eaten for economical and time efficiency purposes, running through the drive thru somewhere, grabbing whatever will fill the void the fastest, not considering the long term body-effect. I like that term! I will continue to use that. We can look at the body-effect of fast foods, prepackaged foods, etc versus eating healthy-fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and minimal, non refined grains. The body-effect of making the fast choice is excess weight gain possibly, but then look internally what damage it could do with your heart, blood sugar, etc. not to mention the issues that could arise with joints and so on. Now on the positive body-effect of making the healthier choices, you could experience weight loss, decreased levels of cholesterol, blood sugar, pain on joints and general overall feeling of goodness and health.
My new term…. Body-effect. I like it! It says a lot. Now, before eating I will personally try to be more aware of the body-effect that the food will provide. Will it be a healthy choice for the body-effect that I want? Absolutely!
On a personal note, I have been struggling. Writing helps me a lot. If anyone reads it or not, it helps me. The body-effect is great for me emotionally to release and share my thoughts. I hope that someone, anyone, that might read my words will be helped through bringing awareness or thought to their own body. Only you can do it for your body. I am doing it for me!
if you follow me please feel free to respond. Also I am now trying to post daily on my Facebook group Heather’s Healthy Habits, including what i eat at each meal, sometimes with pictures and recipes. Just request to be my friend- Heather Shelton Gum or message me to be added to the group.
Today is an opportunity. Many choices will be before us in this day God has blessed us with. It is our decision how to react to them which will determine the outcome. What results are you looking for? Making the “right” decision is not always an easy thing to do in many situations, especially when it comes to our health.
For 30 years I was overweight to morbidly obese due to not making the choices that were best for my body - physical, mental and emotional health. I was talking to some coworkers yesterday about nutrition and they were saying how knowledgeable I am. I gave myself a new title of PD - Professional Dieter. There’s no way I could figure out an actual count of how many “diets” I have been on. For some I couldn’t even make it through the first day but they would count too. There’s something to think about. However the benefit of my experience as a Professional Dieter leads me into a vast familiarity with healthy eating, nutritional options and even more so on what doesn’t work best for trying to lose excess weight.
After all is said and done - I finally found what has worked for my body. Every body is different. There are different likes and dislikes, capabilities, financial means, location and availability of food, etc. I was talking last summer to a friend that has lost a lot of weight as well, over 100 pounds. We both started feeding our bodies metabolically about a week apart. As strange as it is, she’s the one who invited me to my first TOPS meeting and wound up quitting. This time we both found a method that suited our bodies and situations. While we were comparing notes, it came up that we are using the knowledge that we’ve had all along. It truly is in the mind to surpass and prevail over all the things that life throws our way to make the decisions that we know we need to make for the outcome we know we need and want.
I am a Professional Dieter. I expect to live the rest of my life feeding my body what it needs to get the most from my body. I feel great and it’s only going to get better. I referred to my extreme weight loss as a shedding of my exoskeleton at one point. Now that exoskeleton that has me en-captured it will be surgically removed to reveal the real me - the me I was meant to be, thanks to The Doctors and Dr. Andrew Ordon. Life is truly a blessing to not take for granted. Give GOD the glory in everything. Without him I would have and be nothing. I am trying to give all my problems to GOD and turn to him for guidance by letting it go into his control, because ultimately I am not in control. Everything happens for a reason. A verse in a poem that I wrote in my youth - “He may answer quick, he may answer slow, but he promises to answer yes or no.”
Speaking with a friend yesterday I recalled something she told me. Back last year when I went to a local plastic surgeon about excess skin just to see what would be suggested, etc. she went with me. Financially, as expected, it would be a huge burden on our family and I could not see doing that. As we sat eating at a salad bar, I looked at her and said “I don’t see it happening.” Her response was “You didn’t see yourself losing the weight either.” That was the determination planted in me to reach out for other options and sources to help with my situation. My mom loves the statement I made that “the excess skin is as mentally debilitating as the excess weight was physically debilitating.”
Life is a series of options, choices and outcomes when it comes to health and nutrition. It’s taken me a lifetime to learn that and now attempt to live it. I expect every day to have continued obstacles and pray that I can overcome them. It is really hard having lost 160-170 pounds to maintain now. I’m staying within 10 pounds so I am okay with that. I am continuing to do this. I am doing it for ME!« go back — keep looking »