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.
i apologize for not writing sooner but life has been insanely busy. There have been a few stories written about my weight loss and my appearance on The Doctors. It started off with The Daily News Journal interviewing me at the Murfreesboro, Tn Metabolic Research Center. The story was in the business section yet mentioned TOPS and my employer as well. Next Tennessee State University did a fabulous feature that was on the front page of their website and linked on their Facebook, Twitter, etc. pages. Not sure if or when it would be in print. There were numerous likes and shares. The University of Tennessee linked to the TSU article as well. The Murfreesboro Post featured my story and my before and after pictures were on the front page. That was quite humbling to drive up to see myself on the front page in the paper machine.
This is a long post to describe an adventure and details therein. If you are interested please continue reading….
On Tuesday, February 26th I alone arrived at the airport to head west to the wonderful state of California. I was able to go down the aisle on the plane and request to sit in a middle seat!! I have heard the analogy about giving yourself oxygen in case of an emergency prior to being able to help children or others where this situation is told about weight loss and the necessity of helping yourself. I was able to see the flight attendant direct a passenger with an infant about the mask. I appreciated that as a reminder that I have and am taking care of myself for a change, for the rest of my life.
I sat next to this wonderful woman named Ellen and was touched by her. We exchanged pleasantries then the whole “where are you going” stories. She was so amazing and the conversation was such a blessing. I have completely turned this over to God as I feel as though my story is and will be able to help others. I was grateful to this beautiful stranger asking me questions about my life and weight struggles and how I have finally been successful. Considering the purpose of the flight and what was to become, literally recorded in history, it was a great “practice” or trial run. The flight seemed to last an hour with the wonderful conversation.
Speaking of trial runs…. If you recall, last July I was recognized in San Diego for my weight loss the previous year. Since the family went with me we scheduled extra days to tour. One of the days was spent on Hollywood Blvd. To look back, it’s as if God was giving me a “dry run” to help prepare me and give me the confidence to return to LA.
When I arrived, it was pretty neat to see someone with my name waiting for my arrival. The driver got my luggage and we headed to the first shoot. At this location my back story was filmed. I was asked questions and told my story on camera and in photographs. After several hours I was driven to my hotel - the Loews Hollywood. I felt like a star walking into the hotel, much less going into my room.
As an overweight/morbidly obese individual I was never comfortable eating alone in public. It was a challenge that I would conquer a few times over the adventurous three days. After everything was settled in the room, I did it! I headed to the hotel restaurant -Preston’s. I ate alone, but Matthew, my server, was very kind. I was mentally prepared to stay on track with my eating program and did just that-without weighing portions which I just had to let go and not worry about. Being absolutely treated special I did take a little advantage and enjoyed a filet mignon with some brocolini and roasted potatoes. Before turning in I ordered room service for breakfast to be delivered.
The night seemed to last forever with the two hour time difference but was somewhat interrupted as well by an email I read in the night. I had to set my alarm to call home early. My oldest daughter was amazing and was able to find, scan and email some requested photographs from my youth. Time passed and the alarm went off so I could get up and be prepared for my “free day” to play in LA. When breakfast arrived, chicken breast with mozzarella and fresh berries, I was sitting there and it all hit me. I was humbled beyond words which lead to tears. I broke down. The reality of me reaching a weight loss goal that I never thought I’d reach hit me and hit me hard. As much as I love to write, this time my very words had gotten me to California to share and tell my story. My friend Lisa made the remark in an instant of humbleness of “What makes me more special or deserving than someone else?” that changed my attitude…. she said - God has gotten you this far, he’s not going to bail out now. I thought I had turned it over to him before but now it was completely. The doubt and fear vanished. The very humble confidence was prevalent above all.
What an amazing day I had?! I took a taxi to the CBS studio where I was in the audience, not chosen, of a taping for The Price Is Right. It will air on April 22nd. I’m quite easy to spot in the back row to the left - a lot!! I also had gotten a ticket for Jay Leno but it was the opposite direction from where I was so I passed it up. There was a taping of Extra with Mario Lopez interviewing Sean Combs and Mark Wahlburg at a nearby mall - The Farmers Market and The Grove. I could have reached out and touched Sean and Mark!! My goal was to walk back to the hotel, about 3 1/2 to 4 miles, and get back before dark. I walked down Fairfax for a ways. Since we had “done” Hollywood Blvd. last year I decided to turn and go up Sunset. I saw some pretty nice cars and even stopped for a mani/pedi! These sweet ladies at the taping and even at the salon offered to give me a ride to the hotel but I was determined and had a goal. I did it! I walked all the way back. I could have NEVER done that before.
Again Matthew was great and I thoroughly enjoyed my Barramundi (?) fresh catch from Australia with brocolini and asparagus. It wasn’t as hard to sleep the second night after enjoying my own company for the day. The day ahead was going to be awesome!
Since the car wasn’t going to be there to pick me up till 10:45 I slept in a smidge then got ready and packed up. I went to the restaurant for breakfast. Woo hoo! I really have come a long way. My mom was great to talk to throughout the trip even though there was three hours difference. I checked out. The car arrived and off to the studio we went. It was nice being shown to my dressing room where I had to wait for hair, make-up and wardrobe. They made me look beautiful and liked the clothes I had brought. (Thanks to Emilie at Kohl’s!) I sat, and froze, during the taping of other segments after being miked and ready. I was lead behind the set and then onto the set of The Doctors where I met Dr. Andrew Ordon and Dr. Travis Stork. Considering I’m not allowed to say anything about the show, it’s actually quite a blur and was very surreal anyways. I vaguely remember, I think, some of the topics but not completely. The most incredible feeling was when I was being lead off the set, cameras off and not cued, the audience started applauding me. I had to keep telling myself not to cry to mess up my make-up.
In the whirlwind I was rushed to the Bob Hope Airport where I had to walk briskly to get through security and to the terminal in time for the flight home. Again I would eat alone in the airport and take 1/2 on the plane to Vegas to finish. Flying can bring many emotions of anxiousness, fear, elation and relief. After a short layover we arrived back to an empty airport and I got home about 2:30 am. High on life.
Tune in on March 20th to your local station to view The Doctors.
The mindset of Doing it for ME has kept me going and will be my focus to stay at my goal. Now onward to work to not just help and encourage others but to lobby for insurance companies to have to pay for corrective procedures after extreme weight loss.
The local paper did a story on me too. I am Google-able! http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=heather%20gum%20dnj&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CDIQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dnj.com%2Farticle%2F20130307%2FBUSINESS%2F303070022%2FReadyville-woman-loses-170-pounds-by-eating-right&ei=ZQo8UaKkH4T28wTblIHQAw&usg=AFQjCNElqTeH6vkzoonZYDRwrhPK9MMORQ&bvm=bv.43287494,d.eWU
What is really a blessing is that someone not only made a life changing decision to join MRC after reading my article, but someone else knew my writing - asking if I was the one who wrote “The Reflection”. I feel that makes me a real writer when someone knows your work! Such a blessing to be in the position I am in to not only life a more active and full life but to make a difference in others lives to be an inspiration and encouragement to become healthier.
Life is full of surprises and blessing in disguise. I am going on an adventure of a lifetime, or the beginning of one. My whole life has been a series of circumstances and situations that has lead me to where I am today, at this very moment. Through all the good and the bad, the happy, the sad, the joyous occassions and misery, there seems to be a silver lining holding it all together, literally a light at the end of the tunnel, my rainbow awaits.
I am running into my future with arms wide open ready to embrace what lies ahead….
I am doing it for me!
Here I am two years to the day that changed my life forever. After what seemed like hundreds, if not thousands, failed attempts at losing weight, I began the journey to what would become a success story. What drove me to the point of change is asked. Why did it work this time? So many factors are involved when it comes to being overweight mentally, physically and emotionally. All I can really say is that I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I didn’t really live life the way I wanted to or could have. No reason to have regrets because that doesn’t change the fact that for over thirty years I existed in a body that suffered from being over weight to morbidly obese. I never realized how bad that I really felt till I know now what it feels like to feel good.
I made changes in my food consumption. There are foods that I don’t foresee me ever putting in my mouth again. I might try a nibble and spit it out these days. If I go off of my program/regiment I typically stay within the realms of foods that I choose to eat but perhaps exceed the measured portion size. The biggest thing I can tell you is that eating nothing boxed or canned has for sure rid my body of many chemicals and preservatives that aren’t natural. The only things i eat now are canned low fat chicken breast, albacore tuna, rarely salmon, and boxed would be melba toast, and low fat high fiber flat bread, pitas, etc. Writing down what I eat helps so much to stay aware and to help pinpoint any problem areas.
When I started journalling, or blogging, my story I called it a rite of passage. It has been a process that has been the hardest thing in my life to do. It has been an every day issue to deal with, not just a one time thing. Through so many meals and situations where I have chosen to make healthy choices over an array of menu items available. I have prepared and taken my own meals into numerous events and gatherings and even into restaurants to eat with friends. At this point it doesn’t bother me anymore. I have gone through probably a ton of clothes from size 30 to now 12/14s. Unfortunately there are some people that have chosen to pull out of my life for whatever reason. That’s one of the worst things to happen after years of friendship.
To get to where I have come has not been easy. I have never been here before so it’s all new to me. I am enjoying my new found size and capabilities. I am still me, believe it or not, though a lot of times people don’t recognize me. That has been a struggle because I still see out of the same eyes. If I am not me then who am I? Well I have come to the conclusion that I am a new improved model of the me that’s been here the whole time.
Who would have thought two years ago I would be sitting here happy to be me? I had not enjoyed being me for a long time and had gained the identity of so many other names, or titles, that wasn’t a true representation of me: daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend, Girl Scout Leader, PTO Chair, employee. I was not serving those roles to the best of my capability because I was not capable to do so trapped in that body. World welcome the new and improved Heather! I expect that I am better at all the tasks those titles hold. I am so thankful that from somewhere deep inside me that the strength was found to overcome everything thrown my way to come out on the other side smiling.
What a privilege that has be bestowed upon me, yes me, I still can’t believe it myself, to become the example and now inspiration to others to make healthy choices and lose weight. I doubted that this journey would have lead me to where I am today but am so grateful and humbled to have accomplished the near impossible feat of losing an extreme amount of weight. Surgery was not an option for me so I lost it all my the good ole hand to mouth method. I move so much more than I ever did before yet find it difficult to find time in my busy schedule to exercise on a routine. I will do as I can when I can is all that I can promise myself right now so I have to be good with that.
If you have followed my blog thank you. I hope I have said something to touch your heart that makes you value yourself a little more, a lot more.
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