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!
It’s been a while since I’ve written. A lot has been going on lately.
Since my last post I have attended the TN TOPS State Recognition Days. It was a fun event, as usual, to recognize accomplishments across the state. There was a before and after parade where you can show your old sized clothes. When it was my turn, imagine me just walking across holding my pants in front of me like I was a paper doll… NOT! I had the big size 30 red pants from my before picture folded and rolled up real tight. I stood on stage and let them unroll. With dramatic pause between each unfolding I opened them up completely. After stepping out of my shoes and hearing the roar and applaud of the crowd, I stepped into one pant leg, holding out the other. What an amazing feeling. The next day I was crowned TOPS TN State Queen! I received a crown and a scepter along with a sash, certificate and fabulous bouquet. It was a very humbling experience. I was recognized and presented the Century Award for losing over a hundred pounds and keeping it off for 52 consecutive weeks. I also graduated as a KOPS, Keep Off Pound Sensibly and as Queen, with the King, we started the Circle of Light. Congratulations Scott Thomas! it was a great weekend with old friends and even better with some new ones.
With this recognition and new title, there are some opportunities that are open to me now. I have applied for and gotten my passport! Why? Because the TOPS International Recognition Days this year is in….. (Drum roll….) Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I am really beginning to like traveling and flying!
The recognition from being on The Doctors was mentioned several times and I even was interviewed again for another paper yesterday. I had to sign a few autographs too. Unfortunately an Uncle died and I had to go out of town. Numerous relatives, who had not seen me, yet had seen me on TV, complimented and praised me about my weight loss. It’s such an honor to be able to talk to people about what I have done and confirming what they know they need to do. It’s not an easy thing by any means but if someone can make healthy choices because of seeing or talking to me, what a blessing.
I have had people ask me about the surgery that Dr. Ordon has so generously offered for me. I have a surgery date! My schedule will be busy with lots of flying. I will be flying for IRD to Canada and have to turn around to fly to California for the procedure on July 22nd. Life is such a blessing.
I have recently returned from a work conference and have some new ideas and possible opportunities ahead to incorporate my new health-style and to encourage others to lead a more healthy life. It was suggested I even present a meeting at a national convention in a couple years. That would be awesome. Not only do we, as educators, try to build on skills and values in the youth with which we work, but we need to be physically and mentally healthy to present information and capable of being the examples for the youth of today and leaders of tomorrow.
God is blessing me daily. I am so proud to be able to share me story with you. Your story matters. Write it down for yourself as you go through the process so you can reflect on your journey as a reminder of what you went through. It’s a great tool for me and I am glad I have done it. There’s no way that I could go back and try to write what I was feeling each time that I was dedicated to write. It’s not been, and still isn’t, easy but I keep Doing It for Me! You can do it.
I have been having a lot of struggles lately. Trying to stay in control is not easy, facing temptations daily…..
If you are interested in reading what I consume daily, on a meal by meal basis, I am posting it on my Facebook page- Heather’s Healthy Habits, under Heather Shelton Gum.
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