The Incredible Week at “Unleash The Champion” With Some Of The “Biggest Losers”… This Is What Dreams Are Made Of!… Day 2 – The Story Continues…

Monday, September 24, 2012-
The first morning of bootcamp came very quickly. I heard the alarm go off a little after  3am. I hopped out of bed pretty quickly, as I hadn’t slept very well. I kept waking up a few times during the night, worrying and panicking about this first day, then going in and out of crazy dreams of actually thinking I was on “The Biggest Loser”. It was a very restless night, mainly due to all of the “unknowns” of this first day and the week ahead.

We put on a few lights in our room, as it was pitch dark outside, and started taking turns using the bathroom and getting ready. At one point, I was in the small hallway bathroom, dressed and ready, and I was literally holding onto the sink, looking in the mirror…my hands were shaking, my body was shaking with nerves and I was in a panic trying to take a breath, wondering, what if I can’t keep up at the boot camp? What if I can’t do what Carter asks us to do? What if I am last? What if I just can’t do it?….I took a few breaths and just prayed that the Lord would be with me…I held onto my verse that I had been holding onto during all of my challenges at the gym and with the Dr. Oz challenge in the last year, “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.”  In that moment, I just asked Him for the strength. I prayed, “I know that you tell me to be anxious about nothing, but in prayer and thanksgiving, give it all over to you….so I am asking you to take these nerves away, calm my spirit, and let me know that you are with me in a mighty way. Thank you for this amazing opportunity to be here. I know that I am suppose to be here, so help me to be able to do all that I need to do, and then please give me your peace that passes ALL understanding. I need your peace, Lord. I can’t go to the gym shaking and fearful like this.”

I also remembered asking the Lord this particular morning, something I had begun to ask for before leaving for this trip.. When others asked me about the trip and what they could pray for me, I said to them, “remember the episode on The Biggest Loser where Hannah was with Jillian and experienced her “back bend moment?” (it was a very powerful moment on the show, where she was brought to a place where she was able to do something she never even dreamed of being able to ever do, which resulted in a huge breakthrough for Hannah in her journey)… please pray for me and for every other person on that ranch this week, that we would each experience a moment like that at least once during the time we are there… And, I continued to pray for this throughout the week.

My room mates were ready, our bags were packed, water bottles filled, and we went downstairs to wait until the van pulled up. When it did, we got into Beth’s car and lined up behind the van. We all pulled out of the ranch, onto the dark country road which lead us to the gym. We were told it would be about 45 minutes, which sounded like a long time, but we had another great visit and time of sharing in our car, and before we knew it, we were pulling into the big parking lot in front of the gym.

We entered the gym around 5am, and although it was still very dark outside, the gym was brightly lit up. We walked around the corner, and there was Carter Hays.. standing on the turf. This part of the gym looked like a huge indoor football field, and lined up along the beginning of the field, were metal sleds with weights on them. As we entered and put our bags along the edge, Carter told us to warm up by walking around the outside of the field, making a huge oval as we walked. Everyone started to file in and walk, including all of his regular clients who got to be with him every day. They were all so kind and so encouraging as they worked out side by side with us each day that week.

A few minutes into walking, we were told to raise our hands straight up and continue walking. A few minutes after that, we were told told to start jogging if we could, and then jog with our hands in the air. Already, Carter was explaining all of the modifications for each person there, only asking us, each individually, to bring our best to the field, and to push ourselves to only do what we were able to do, not the person next to us.

At this point, I noticed Olivia run by…then Marci….then Courtney….then Hannah. You could see everyone starting to notice them jogging around the field with us, and although it might sound crazy, we had no idea that they would all be working out alongside of us. We were all really excited to see them, and really inspired to be working out with them. I remember feeling like I was in a dream, jogging around, listening to Carter shout out instructions, looking around at all of these people on this turf, and also seeing Olivia, Hannah, Courtney and Marci spread out within the group. Their smiles, their comments, their words of encouragement…their presence, literally each of them letting us know that they were fully in this with us, was an experience beyond what my words could ever convey.

After jogging for a bit, we were told to line up on the different lines of the turf. As I stepped up to the one in front of me, which happened to be the first line in front of Carter, I looked to my left, and on my same line was both Courtney and Olivia. Again, I was literally in dream mode…and this was what dreams were made of….after months of waiting and anticipating…there we all were, working out with Carter Hays, Hannah’s trainer… on his turf….the actual gym and turf that we had all only seen in pictures and on the internet. And we were all here at our first bootcamp…with Hannah, Olivia, Courtney and Marci…all working out by our sides. Unbelievable!

And then the workout began….we did walking lunges, high knee walks, high knee jogs, and yes the hardest one of all…bear crawls (crawling on the turf using your hands and feet, no knees down)…alternating one exercise to the other, going forward to the next line and then moving backward to the line before. I hung in there and did my absolute best, pushed myself hard, as I had Courtney doing it all right next to me, and Olivia a few people down from me. They were both in my peripheral vision, they were working to their max, which made me work as hard as I could. After doing a lot of different reps, in certain amounts of time,  we were eventually brought down to the beginning of the field and formed lines behind the metal sleds, which had various weights on them. The sled we were pushing today was 150 pounds. Everyone cheered as we took turns pushing… first pushing it 10 yards and switching to the next person, all while jogging down the field behind the person pushing..and back again, as it was pushed, then we were pushing 20 yards each, then half the field, and eventually we worked up to pushing it the entire field. The energy in that gym, the people cheering one another on, the feeling of pushing that sled and having everyone behind you, believing you could accomplish it…, was the greatest feeling ever! And again, to have our “idols” doing this with us, hearing them cheer us on and believe that we could do it… was absolutely amazing!

We continued to work hard, up until the end of the hour, we cooled down and stretched a bit, and then Carter had us all come in together, place our hands in the center of the circle we had all huddled into… and all yell the famous words that Mary Nell came up with for this week…”Start. Sweat. Finish!”, as we all raised our hands up to celebrate as we shouted. What an incredible first work out. We all got just a taste of what Carter does when he trains athletes, clients, famous people, regular people…and it was incredible. I was so relieved and proud to have been able to do what he asked us to do, and to do it with all of the amazing people on that turf was beyond words.

As we left the gym, we walked back out into darkness. The sun had not even begun to rise yet. We lined up behind the van, waiting for all of the cars to get into line. I remember getting out of the car to take a picture of everyone lined up, because we were leaving the gym after a complete work out, and the sky was still black.

We had a great time talking on the way back. Again, the time just flew by. We were talking about how great God is in His planning, and Beth said, “I just picture God sitting around with the angels, our loved ones, and Jesus in heaven, as he has been planning, since time even began, special moments… down to the second for us, and at times like this I picture him  just pointing at us and saying, look at them just smiling and laughing and enjoying this moment that I created for them.” It was such a great visual that we referred to many times that week as we stopped and enjoyed those moments.

One of them actually happened in the next few minutes of our drive back. As we were almost back on the ranch, we pulled over to the side of the road to see the mist rising in the fields, the horses grazing, and the sun just starting to rise. It was breathtaking, and we know that the Lord was just pointing, smiling and listening to us take it all in and enjoy it.

We pulled up to the lodge, placed our bags, notebooks and all that we would need for the day in the van, which would eventually be driven down to the area where we would be for the day (which was a bit of a hike away). At that point, the next work out was a long walk through the woods. This would be the moderate one, and the steeper one would be later on.

The people who wanted to go on the hike started to gather in front of the lodge. Then, appearing on the porch…Carter, Hannah, Mary Nell, Olivia, Courtney and Marci. We took some fun pictures while we were waiting, and then Mary Nell lead us on a hike. Again, we were all just so touched that they were all doing everything with us, right by our sides.

I started up front, walking and talking with Mary Nell, also known as “Murn”.It was so great to meet her and begin to hear her about her story and journey. The Lord brought her together with Carter and Hannah in a way that only He could do. Carter met Murn about a year and a half ago at one of his bootcamps. She had showed up, because her boss was working out with Carter, and told Murn that Hannah had been coming to work out with them. Murn loved “The Biggest Loser”, especially this season. She felt that deep down somehow she had a special connection with these women, and she really felt she ‘knew’ the people on this season, especially Hannah. When she heard she was working out with Carter, she showed up at the gym, but that day Hannah wasn’t there. She showed up a few days later, and that is when she met her. Although she had seen what she had been through on TV, she didn’t realize fully, until she was working out side by side with her, what she had actually accomplished. She shared with us, that It was when she was literally doing a plank next to Hannah, she looked and thought, “Wow! Look what she has done!” She said that being next to her at that moment was a privilege, and now being able to call her a friend is beyond anything that she could have ever imagined. She said it was in that moment that she felt a fire in her that she had never felt before, and knew then and there that this was what she was meant to do. She and Carter and Hannah began to talk about the possibilities of creating this Faith to Fitness…Unleash the Champion retreat, and together they began moving forward and walking in faith.

As we started hiking, my first question to Murn was, “can I ask you how you chose who went into which room?” I told her that our room seemed so completely hand picked by God, that the women in our room were just really meant to be together through our stories, struggles, journeys… I just wanted to know how they did it. She said that they all got together, and through prayer and just trusting that the Lord would provide, they just went  through the lists and “randomly” assigned the rooms. Ok then…..again…. All I could say was, Only God!

As we were walking through the woods, Murn told me how they found “Deer Run”, the ranch we were at, and how they knew right away that this was the place. The owners of the ranch are also Christians and continued to follow the Lord’s leading years ago, in building their land and ranch in order to be used to glorify the Lord. As Carter said during one of the talks later that week, “there’s something that happens here at Deer Run. You can feel it, you can’t deny it, it’s something very special.”  One of our nights all together, when he thanked the owners, Dave and Liz, he said, “Deer Run has brought a lot of laughter,  you put the hills exactly where they needed to be, it’s easy to design this retreat here…but the spirit of love that permeates everything around here, from a tree to whatever…it’s inherent In the hands that built it, and God works through the hands of the people who build.” I can tell you that after being so blessed to have been there for a week, it is a special place that has touched my heart and created memories and moments I will cherish forever!

Monday was our first morning being at the ranch, and through talking on that first hike with  Murn and Hannah, just sharing as we walked through the woods…along with learning from Candice the day before, that she prayed over each of us by name as we signed up…it was so beautiful to see how the Lord used each person, this ranch, each vision, each dream, every single prayer, each journey…..all to bring us to this place and time. Again, it was just a glimpse of what was to come from this week.

We hiked, took great pictures along the way. We waited and encouraged those people who had never hiked before. And when we got to the last section before walking down the last hill to breakfast, we took a picture to celebrate everyone completing this first hike together. All this…and it was only breakfast time!

Our chef, Chris and his team made us a delicious breakfast. He, and they, are one of the greatest treasures here. He and his team worked for hours/days, maybe even months before this week, to research and create the most delicious, nutritious, low calorie beautiful meals for the entire week while we were there. We consumed about 1500 calories a day, and that included dessert at lunch and dinner! Many times he would have us eat something before letting us know what it really was. And usually, we were absolutely astounded. We had a dessert one day that was so chocolatey and delicious, and it was actually avocado and cocoa powder! And many desserts were topped with whipped cream…yum! (made with coconut milk).

After breakfast each day, we would climb up a steep hill, which starts out with a bunch of steps and then goes into a steep, winding path that leads to a building called the “upper room”. That is where all of the speakers gave their talks, so it was a big climb that we had to make up and down, at least twice a day.

Today, we were heading up there to hear “Big Vinnie” speak (also a former contestant on The Biggest Loser). Vinnie shared his life journey with us.. we laughed, we cried, and we learned so much, as he poured out his heart right before us. He was born a fighter and a survivor, which he needed to be as he experienced so many hard things throughout his life, trying to grow up and make sense of things..violence, abuse, divorce, broken families, a traumatic childhood, being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at 27 years old, reaching a weight of  well over 400 pounds.

He spent the morning sharing with us all that he learned from, and during these devastating events, and how his journey lead him to being a contestant on “The Biggest Loser”, and how he eventually met Carter, Hannah, Olivia, Courtney, Marci and Murn. He shared how an amazing God could take someone with a very “poisoned mentality” of thinking he could do everything by himself, to a place where he finally realized that he never used any of his gifts for God, and wanted more than anything to do that first. He was honest in saying that the things that are difficult never stop being a challenge, but what matters is that you are trying to change.

He took us through some of the hardest, most devastating times in his life, and showed us what forgiveness and restoration looks like. The Lord continued to place people in his life to draw him back to Him. And now, His testimony gives hope to everyone who hears it.

At one point, he asked us to close our eyes and envision the one thing that we wanted more than anything else in this world. Then he said, “find your reason why. Until you find your reason why, you won’t ever do it. Your reason why has to be bigger than every single reason or excuse that you’re not going to do it every day. Focus on these things every time you want to quit or say no. Ask God to give you this. Every single day there are new choices. Take this life.. one choice, one decision, one day at a time. Don’t think, I have to lose 100 pounds, that’s too overwhelming. Make small choices each day to get there.”

He then challenged us to take a notebook and write down one thing you can change every day of the week, and then choose to do it. “The next thing you know, you will have changed 365 things in one year. It’s an every day thing you can do to make little changes that will lead to big changes.” He pointed out that we watch other people do amazing things all the time, and then stated… “why can’t that be you? The only difference between you and them is that they chose to do something.” He challenged us to lead by example, and people would eventually join you…”surround yourself with people who will help you and continue to be teachers in your life, those who will help you do great things. You have to put yourself first  in order to be able to really love others.” And I loved this one…”no matter how slow you are going, you’re lapping everybody whose sitting on the couch!”.  “You can go out and change it all, you can do anything. It can be you!”

He learned an invaluable lesson from Carter early on, “don’t compare yourself to the other people, just be the best YOU that you can be. The only person you don’t need to get beaten by is yourself.”

When he finished with all of his inspiring words, Carter ended by saying, “you’ve all got a story. The beauty of life is that you are creating and living out your story. That never ends. The book of “Acts” never ends..and you get to have a chapter. What’s your story?…”

( ok…are you still with me?….guess what…all this, and it’s not even lunch time yet!)

We had a great time visiting and taking pictures with Vinnie. We all felt so close to him after hearing his story. He is such a beautiful young man, inside and out. What a gift it was to meet him and hear his story.

It was time to head back down the hill and experience a zumba class. I was really excited, as zumba has become one of my favorite classes of the week at my gym, but I was even more excited to be with most of the people who were experiencing this as one of their “firsts”. Even at my gym, many people don’t come in and try it for fear of the unknown, and not believing that they can do it. I remember walking in my first time with Meg, and trying it. It was a little confusing, but it was so much fun, and the instructor helped us and modified it, so that we could do our best for our first time. I knew that Carter was going to have the best people brought in all week to teach us so many different ways to exercise, so I was excited to go to this zumba class.

We made our way down to the big white tent. You could hear and see some hesitation, but even Vinnie came down to try it with all of us, and I think his enthusiasm really made so many others want to give it a try. The woman leading was so much fun! She broke it down and did lots of repetition so that everyone could get a feel of what zumba was. The fun and laughter was contagious, and in the end, there were people talking about taking a class when they got home. We all had the greatest time.

After zumba, it was finally time for lunch. Chris created another amazing lunch and dessert, and it was fun to meet more people at the table I was sitting at. One of the greatest things that happened right away, was that everyone really mixed up where they sat, so that we were always meeting new people. There wasn’t any “clickiness”, and no matter what table you walked up to, you were welcome to sit and felt included right away. And again, it was so beautiful how Carter, Murn, Olivia, Hannah, Courtney, Marci, Vinnie….all spread out and just sat and shared with everyone they were eating with.

The weather was so beautiful all week, most of the time, we were eating outside at the tables, which was really nice. Each day after lunch, there were two hikes. The first one was considered “moderate”, and the second one was steeper and harder. This was our first day, so we were still walking through all of the “unknowns’’. Remember though, we decided as a room, that we were going to try it all, so we were fully going to go on both hikes.
The first hike was considered “moderate”. There was a pretty large group of us who decided to go, and Murn usually lead the hikes. It was another great opportunity to visit and share stories as we walked. After we completed the first hike, we were all at the bottom of the hill and it was explained that the next one would be the tougher one. Those who decided to go gathered, and we continued back into the woods, this time looking up at a steeper hill. It wasn’t as long as the first climb, but was definitely steeper.

We took some pictures along the way. We also stopped at various points to wait for others who were coming along. One of the wonderful things everyone decided to do was that we would all wait, especially at the very top, until the last person made it, so that we could all celebrate together. And many of those celebrations involved cheers, smiles, incredible testimonies, and tears of joy!

One of those incredible moments happened on this first steep hike. We were all at the top, watching each person come over and reach the top, cheering each group on. Then we saw Hannah walking beside the last woman to come over the top. Her name was Heather, and this is a moment that I still remember so vividly and can’t hold back the tears, even as I type this story…Heather is a beautiful woman, who always has the brightest smile, who looks very athletic to me, and was hiking up the hill with two ski poles in her hands, and as she and Hannah arrived at the top and the cheering ended, Hannah told Heather that she had to share her story with all of us. Heather then proceeded to tell us that she was diagnosed with MS, she had been working with Carter on his turf for a long time, and she was dreaming of being able to climb this mountain. When she finished sharing her story, we were all crying and all sooo proud of her, and she then said, “I’m going to climb this every single day this week!” And I vowed in my heart, at that moment, that I wasn’t going to miss one of those days of being able to hike with Heather and all of these amazing women and men on this mountain. What an inspiration she was to all of us at that moment, and every single day following. I’m so blessed to know and love her. She continues to inspire me today.

After our hikes, we were brought back to the main tent to go through a series of movement assessments. We broke into groups, and within those groups, we took turns squatting, first on both legs, then we had to do single leg squats  as we were watched and assessed through a form which Carter and the others assessing us had. We were viewed from every angle, so that our weaknesses could be noted, in order to then focus on those weaknesses and learn appropriate exercises to strengthen them. It was just another wonderful tool to know our strengths and weaknesses individually, and then be empowered with the information to work on those areas.

If I had done this exercise a year ago, I know that my form would have read much differently than it did now. I have gone to so many classes where I have had to do so many squats, and my legs have really been strengthened during this past year through all of the exercising. The people in my group actually said, “wow, you’re great at squatting”, which made me feel good, and then as I was doing the single leg squats, Carter was filling out my assessment sheet, and there was a point that he said, “you have really strong leg muscles.” (another proud moment that I will hold onto, as it reminded me, again, of how far I have come. I have a long way to go, but this moment I could celebrate what I had accomplished so far.) Our notes were made, and I was looking forward to the next day when we would learn how to strengthen our weaknesses. All of this information that Carter and his team were passing onto us was just invaluable. What a gift.

After assessments, it was time for dinner. On this evening I sat at a table with some more wonderful people to meet, and Courtney also sat at our table. We shared more great stories, laughter, and continued to share from our hearts. I am just in awe of how the Lord continues to place people at certain tables at specific times, it’s just beautiful!

Another delicious dinner cooked by Chris. This night, I think it was Salmon. I never eat fish. I hate fish. I am NOT a seafood girl. But…I know I was really hungry, and I knew that I would try anything Chris was making. Believe it or not, I really liked it, it was delicious. Who knew? I wish that I had thought to take a picture of each meal. Some women did. I will try to get their pictures, just for you to see how beautiful and delicious our meals were. And again, what a gift, as women, moms…to be waited on and not think what we are cooking for breakfast, lunch and dinner. (and dessert!)

Bellies were satisfied, and yes, it was time to climb the big, steep hill heading up to the upper room, again.  So, we grabbed our bags, etc. and made the climb. A nice little work out after eating. We were all excited to head up there, as our speakers for the evening were Marci and Courtney. It was also going to feel nice to sit down and relax for a while. Remember, it’s our first full day…we have been up since 3am….went to boot camp, then on a morning hike, then Vinnie shared, went to zumba, lunch, a moderate hike, a harder hike, movement assessments, dinner…and here we are.

Carter got up to introduce Marci. I have learned early on to grab my pen when Carter is about to speak. The wisdom that the Lord pours out of this man is something I don’t want to miss or forget. He started with a quote that I read in his book, “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.” He then said, “ Marci will share-You’ll hear it, you’ll see it, and now it’s also time to take and integrate it. When you do, YOU will understand and it will go inside. Inspiration is a gift to take in. YOU are the next story. You will inspire others. You can tell passion (who you are),by the way someone wears it.” He set the stage beautifully for this passionate woman, mom, wife, friend…Marci…to share her heart and story with all of us.

Her story also encompassed much of Courtney’s story, as it was her daughter, Courtney, who brought her to “The Biggest Loser” show. As Marci began to speak, she shared that she had three major fears when she entered the Biggest Loser ranch…mice, heights, and public speaking. She really started to worry about the public speaking and all that she may have to do, but then came to a wonderful place where she realized, “I don’t have obligations….I have privileges.” Which was a beautiful, freeing revelation for her. She went on to share that Courtney taught her everything on the ranch, along with Hannah and Olivia.

Her story began by sharing a bit about her family, and a little background about Courtney. As a mom, she brought tears to my eyes in the first few minutes as she stated, “You see, I could die tomorrow, because my kids know why God put us on this earth–to serve other people–that’s why we’re here! I thought I would have to teach my kids about life, and the truth is, when I look in their eyes, just like when I look in your eyes, I find out what life’s all about. It’s about love–it just comes down to love. We have to take care of one another. The journey doesn’t end. We need each other. I’ve been nothing but filled since I’ve been here.” I was already inspired and in tears, and she had only been speaking for a few minutes…

She proceeded to share how the Lord clearly orchestrated the timing and all the events that lead up to her and Courtney being chosen for the show. Courtney had been rejected 2 times after trying out for the show, she even went out to California to try out for Extreme Makeover, and although they loved her, they could only choose 8 people and she was choice number 9.

Courtney is another woman filled with wisdom, and one of her great sayings that I hold onto since meeting her is something she taught her mom at a huge turning point on the ranch, and with all of us at this retreat… “It’s going to take a while to change your body–but it only takes a split second to change your mind.”

Around this time, it was her 21st birthday, and she was so crushed that she didn’t make the show. She said on her 21st birthday she took that split second and decided to make a change. She told us that it really is about changing your mind.  She was 435 pounds when she started. She shared that it had to be small changes, so that she could make it a lifestyle. She gave up soda, then fast food at first, and just doing that, she was down 25 pounds. Then she did a 30 day “jumpstart” and was down 50 pounds. She began to walk, and eventually had the courage to walk into a gym and try a sitting elliptical machine. She continued to make one small change at a time and doing that, Courtney actually ended up losing 112 pounds before getting on the ranch.

Meanwhile, the producers were watching how well she was doing on her facebook page, and they ended up seeking her out. She knew at this point that she didn’t need a show to lose the weight, she had lost 112 pounds on her own, but after being called 6 times in 5 days, she decided to pursue it, and since it was couples…she needed her mom, Marci, to go with her. (I’m so thankful for their obedient hearts, as I believe the Lord needed to place them on that show to use their lives and testimonies to inspire the world….including me!)

Well, the Lord continued to orchestrate everything in a mighty way…as Marci states, “God had a plan–it was His time and His plan–we had to give up the control.” And in His amazing timing, Marci and Courtney got to choose Bob and Jillian as their trainers, along with Hannah and Olivia…and the Lord brought them all together… for such a time as this.

Through their journeys, they saw the hand of God in every moment and experience…before, during and after life on the ranch. Courtney lost another 110 pounds and ended up losing 230 pounds in 18 months, Marci was on high blood pressure medication, and has not had to take medication since stepping foot on that ranch, their season of The Biggest Loser was like none other (and continues to be the one that is most watched even now through you tube) due to the love and support, faith and prayer that they all shared, and they continue to share their testimonies and pass on their wisdom and gifts of inspiration and all that they have learned with everyone they meet….including us this week.

On this night, we not only heard all of the amazing ‘‘behind the scenes” stories, which are now woven into what we saw on TV, but we learned so much from this beautiful mother/daughter relationship…The power and depth of a mother’s love, the sovereignty, grace and mercy of God, and wonderful words of wisdom, along with great knowledge which they passed on from their weight loss and fitness journeys.

At one point, Marci said, “this is about hope–when you really want to change and make it happen, you have to have hope and believe it can happen. Proclaim it. Tell people and commit to it.” They both impressed on all of us that, “you have to ask for help, we’re all in this together, you have to find friends and family to help you, and as you do, you will realize that this is your family.” Courtney even asked us that night, “Do you realize how close you have all gotten in just a day?..You’re making bonds you won’t break. I already feel like we are a family.”

I sat there in amazement at how close I had already gotten with so many people here, and it truly was less than 24 hours that we had all been together. We had the same common bond found in the struggles we have been facing throughout each of our lives, and we were here to battle this together. The more we opened up and shared, the less alone we felt. And to have Marci and Courtney, two of our “TV superstars”, share the honest truth of their lives this first night…hearts and lives wide open…in order to help each one of us, made us realize that we were all part of a new, very special family.

Marci shared that she learned to do some of her best communicating on the ranch, and knew that it would be really important to communicate all that she needed when she got home. She taught us that you can’t put people above you, which is an important lesson that I have learned this past year. I love how my Weight Watcher’s leader taught it to me, “after me, you come first.” Still one of the toughest, but most important lessons I have learned. Then Marci told us, “you must have a plan and a strategy. You need good time management skills.” This includes planning for eating, working out, scheduling your day. “Your heart needs to be open to share your knowledge. You have to find your powerful “why”.” She explained that we all know what we are suppose to do, but many times we just can’t find our “why”. (Just like Vinnie said, “find your reason why. Until you find your reason why, you won’t ever do it. Your reason why has to be bigger than every single reason or excuse that you’re not going to do it every day.”)-are you seeing a pattern here?

Courtney also reminded us to be proud of, and cherish, the little things…like fitting into a restaurant booth, using the regular seatbelt on an airplane, being able to now do something you could never do before.  She explained, “those things are always going to be a part of me, but it doesn’t define me, and I won’t go back.” She went on to say, “weight is a number on a scale. You can love yourself at any weight, if you have your faith. You have to believe you are a beautiful person now, because you are. You’re perfect with your imperfections.” (I love that!) Courtney is one of the most self confident people I have ever met. Even Marci told us, as her mom, Courtney has always been a very vibrant person, no matter what he weight or situation has been.

Anyone who refers to Courtney speaks of her amazing spirit, her strong faith, her determination, her strength, her endurance, her love. She said to all of us, at the end of the night, “I have to celebrate where I’ve come from and always figure out what I’m fighting for—everyday. It’s all part of God’s plan. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t gone through what I’ve gone through. We all have something. We all have a story, our own story. I’ve come a long way.”

Anyone who describes Marci speaks of her gifts as a mom, caretaker, her strong faith and determination, her incredible wisdom,her strong love. She set such an amazing example and tone on the BL ranch, and touched lives in such a mighty way, that the day she was voted off the ranch, some of the others cried for hours! She is a person that you meet and feel like you have known her forever, and you want to just spend as much time with her as you can and take in all that she has to share.

At the end of her testimony that night, Marci reminded us to “be still and know that I’m the Lord”–she said, “I can’t be anything to anyone else unless I listen to him.” She also pointed out that, “on a healthy lifestyle, there are no finish lines.” Then, she wrapped it up by saying, “ I want you to remember 2 things….If you do everything in love, in His name—You are guaranteed success….and, if you do that , you really are taking care of you—and that’s not selfish, it’s selfless…as long as you want to do it in His name.

Our first spectacular night at the upper room had come to an end, and we all had to get to bed in order to get up a little after 3am for our next morning of boot camp. When we got back to our room, we placed all we needed out for the morning, then all of my room mates went to sleep, as I stayed up, sitting next to my lamp, trying to write as much as I could down from this day, so that I would remember it. I got to bed way after midnight, but slept a bit better, as the many of the “unknowns” from the night before.. we had all gotten through today.

As I try to even share half of the notes I wrote down during these talks, and during this first full day,  it is so hard to choose what what to write. I just keep stopping and holding my hands up, praying and asking for the Lord to just choose the words and use my hands to type what He wants me to put out there. I also continue to be overwhelmed with gratitude for the amazing blessing of having been able to be here at this place, “for such a time as this.” with all of these extraordinary people who have become a special family to me.

So, this is the end of the first full day, Monday. I can’t wait to share the rest of the week with you…..

The Incredible Week at “Unleash the Champion” With Some of “The Biggest Losers”… This is what dreams are made of! ….Day 1

Sunday, September 23, 2012- Got up very early to head to the airport. Bags were packed, everything was organized at home for my entire family, as I was leaving for about a week. My stomach was a mess with excitement..mixed with nerves and anxiety…This was the first time I was ever flying alone, the longest amount of time that I was leaving my family to be away by myself..and although I was extremely excited about spending the week with my “Biggest Loser” TV inspirations… Olivia, Hannah, Marci, Courtney, Carter Hays… and all of the women I had already been meeting through the internet, I also had my mind going crazy with all of the “what if’s?”….what if I can’t handle this? What if I can’t keep up with the work outs? What if I’m last, and everyone has to wait for me? What if I’m not strong enough? What if we have to run a lot? What if everyone else brought friends with them? What if I didn’t bring the right stuff?….What if?…

Little did I know then, what I know absolutely, for sure, now…that the Lord was orchestrating this week, starting many many years ago,  in order to create a life changing, life altering week/experience for each and every person, who was hand picked by Him to be there. I was just one of over 40 people who were there, and when you hear my story, mixed in with some of the lives of others there, you are going to be absolutely astounded. I actually wish that I could see your faces and hear your reactions as you read about my story on this ranch, and I wish that every person who was there could share their individual stories of how their lives were impacted…from the people who attended, to the team of professionals who came together bringing all of their gifts and talents to bless us.. All of whom we found out while we were there, each had a vision and dream to create such an experience, and through their prayers and faith, they were all brought together to meet one another, through miraculous, divine timing…”for such a time as this.” Their dreams and prayers became a reality and incredible experience for all of us, and we were part of the “pilot program” that forever changed all of our lives. I will blend in what I know of their stories, as I take you through the week.

So, as my journey begins, we left very early on Sunday and headed to the airport. My husband was taking me to one airport, as my son was heading to another airport to pick up my brother, who was coming in from California for the week to take care of my parents. On the way, my husband prayed for me, then stayed while I checked in curbside… and after a long hug, I walked away with tears streaming down my cheeks, took a big breath, and just asked the Lord to hold me tightly as we walked through this together. I got through all the security, found my gate to wait at, and then picked up some healthy choices to have a little breakfast. Olivia and Hannah always send instagram pictures of their healthy choices in airports when they travel, so instead of just grabbing comfort food and not thinking, I really looked around at two venues, and chose some good foods from each of them. That was a ‘first’ for me, and I felt really great about it.

I sat at the gate, ate a bit, and then opened my notebook, knowing that I had to read a packet that Carter sent to all of us, which was downloaded and placed in my notebook the night before. The title of it was “Today is the day to…Unleash the Champion…start.sweat.finish…-never quit.”

Let me stop a second and introduce Carter Hays to you. I could probably spend a few pages just writing about him, but let me take a quote from Hannah Curlee, as Carter was the trainer who took her to the finale of the Biggest Loser, where she came in second to her sister, Olivia.  This is the man who envisioned this “Unleash the Champion” program, along with Hannah and the team God divinely placed together. Hannah writes, “…We trained so hard, Carter’s nutrition plan and training program transformed my body in a way that I thought was impossible. I began to meet people who had been touched my this ministry he calls physical fitness. It was amazing.” Carter is an amazing trainer, and physical fitness is his ministry. He gives all the glory to God, and pretty much everything he passes on so eloquently and with such passion is not only scientifically sound and true, but also Biblically based. This week that we were all about to walk through, was now his dream come true.

So there I was, waiting at the gate for my plane, reading his packet, highlighting and taking loads of notes already. I was trying to focus and not let the fear of flying take hold of me. Well, here starts all of the incredible “God-incidences” of the week ahead….The packet started out talking all about hope, perseverance, confidence..then lead into a whole section on fear and courage. As I read his words, I was feeling more and more empowered, and couldn’t believe that this was the section I happened to be reading at this point in time. I underlined and starred and put the words, “wow” and “yes” next to so many statements…”Fear can be transformed into freedom”, “face your fear when you are experiencing great anxiety”, “you may have been anxious about many things, most of which we all realize will never happen”, “overcoming fear is the application of faith”. Courage is the opposite of fear. All of these words of wisdom were just washing over me   and helping me let go of my fear and anxiety.

My niece, Noelle,  who is only 12,  actually had to fly from California to Pennsylvania all by herself for a funeral the day before I was leaving. She called me a few times, as she was nervous, and I prayed with her and told her to picture the Lord holding her right hand, and I told her that when she got nervous, she should just squeeze His hand. I shared Isaiah 41:13 with her..“For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. We prayed for the Lord to put his angels around the plane and I told her that she was in the palm of his hand, not to worry. I prayed for her throughout the day while she was on the plane, and prayed that she would enjoy it, and when she called right when she landed, she actually said that it was “fun”. I kept thinking of her and how brave she was and kept saying, Lord, if Noelle can fly across the entire US, I can fly a few hours to Nashville, and I know that all of the promises I shared with her are for me also.

Right when I finished reading the last sentence of the fear and courage section, they announced that we would be boarding in 10 minutes. I remember literally saying to God, “if this is just a glimpse of your timing and of how this week is about to go, it’s going to be mighty!” I wrote on the bottom of that page I was reading, “already, Only God could have orchestrated down to this moment, both the words I have read and the exact timing of what I’m about to do! This is going to be a mighty week ahead!” Then on the other side of the page I wrote “9:20am-LGA-Now getting on plane alone for the first time! He is with me- He who is in me is greater! I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! With God all things are possible! Fear not…(why)…I am with you!”

I shut my notebook, got everything together, and my seat was called. I boarded and got buckled, and remembered that my friend, Lorraine, had come over the night before and placed 6 letters and notes in my binder for me to open each day while I was away. She wanted to come with me so badly, but she is a teacher, and there was no way that she could take off for a week so early into the school year. So, she promised to pray for me while I was away, and placed all of these letters and notes into my binder so that she could be with me in that special way.

After getting settled in my seat, I opened the first letter. It was on notepaper, and on the cover of the first page it said, “September 23rd To be read on Plane” and had a drawing of a plane on it.

It read…
“Day 1-Take off!!! Wow, you are taking off on yet another new journey…but know this…YOU ARE NOT ALONE!! -The lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Psalm 46:7.
-The Lord is with us. Numbers 14:9
-Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you;he will never leave your side. Deuteronomy 31:6.
HE is with you my friend! I will be praying for you each and everyday. I am in AWE of your willingness, your desire, your perseverance, your bravery…and much more. Of course, there is a piece of me that is jealous and wish that I could be sitting in the window seat next to you. But since I can’t be, I commit to you to do my very best at a workout routine while you are away. I was able to start walking/jog this week 3 times so far. But I want and need more…so I commit to work out, someway, somehow everyday you are away. I will write it out or log it in too!
As you take flight, I pray Lord that you give Wendy an open heart & open mind to the week ahead. Lord you have already ordained these days. Bless her roommates, her workouts, her meals, her new relationships. Lord, Wendy has so much to offer the people she is about to meet, but allow her to be open to the changes you may begin in her. I pray blessings upon her flight & drive to her ranch. Lord take care of my dear friend. I know she is in good hands. In Christ, Lorraine.”

Wow, what a gift! When I read her letter, the amazing thing was that when I taught 2nd  grade years ago, Deuteronomy 31:6 was one of our class verses that we said together in a certain way together all the time, sort of a song. It came right back to me in that instant, and as the plane sped up heading down the runway, and we started to climb into the air, I held onto that verse, I closed my eyes and just kept saying it over and over again until we were level in the sky, smiling,again, at another “God-incidence”… that Lorraine would choose this verse to share with me at this particular time. She had no idea how much this would mean to me as she was preparing all of these letters, allowing the Lord to use her in such a special way, choosing a verse that was so important to me.

As we leveled off, there was a really nice woman next to me, she flew all the time, as she worked for American express, I told her it was my first time flying alone. She was so calm and just told me that I was doing great. She flew this flight all the time, and then she said it was “so easy.”

During the flight, I finished reading Carters booklet, highlighted so much of it, then actually slept for a bit and actually didn’t think about the flight at all. When I woke up, I decided to be brave and open the window shade, I saw that we were pretty close to the land, and within seconds, the pilot then said, “10 minutes to land!” It was a quick, perfect landing, and we were at the gate very quickly. When I reached the baggage claim, my bag was one of the first ones coming out.  Then, I found the baggage claim area where we were all suppose to gather to meet Carter for our ride to the ranch.

I was one of the earliest flights to arrive, so I was the only one there at that time. The Nashville airport is absolutely beautiful. You can hear people singing country music in different venues as you walk through, and there are beautiful adirondack rocking chairs throughout the baggage claim areas to just sit in and relax. I grabbed a cup of coffee, sat in a beautiful rocking chair, and then called my husband, my brother and Lorraine. After telling them all what the Lord was doing already in His amazing timing, I also told  Lorraine about the story of that verse she gave me in the letter. I had chills and goosebumps while I was telling her, and just said to her, “if God is already creating these moments– I know we’re in for a mighty week!”

Eventually, I looked over and saw some girls sitting by the baggage one area where we were told to meet. I went over to talk to them. (I didn’t realize it at this point, but one of them would be one of my room mates). Within a few minutes, we saw Carter coming towards us. We knew it was him from far away as he is so fit, and as he got closer, he was carrying an “Unleash the Champion” sign.  It was really exciting to finally meet him.

We all talked while waiting for other girls to arrive, and we took some pictures with Carter. I handed my camera to another woman, and when she took my picture standing next to him, with his arm around me, I just thought, “Wendy, this is Hannah’s trainer,… you are standing next to THE Carter Hays, and you are going to be working out with him…at his gym… all week long. This is the man you have seen on the videos, and you are standing RIGHT NEXT TO HIM! You are REALLY HERE, THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING!” It was truly a surreal moment, (just one of many that would happen over the next few days).  Then, while we were taking turns taking pictures, continuing to introduce ourselves, one woman had said that she read my blog and was excited to meet me! (Really Lord?!!,  this woman read my story and was excited to meet me?…another surreal moment.)

When the last woman for our group arrived, we made our way to the van. I was really happy to find out that I wasn’t the only one with 2 suitcases. Pretty much every woman had 2 suitcases. As we all started to get to know each other, and compare luggage amounts, we all admitted that we had no idea what to expect, how many sets of workout clothes we would need, etc… It just goes to show, women are women…our fears, insecurities, worries seem to be the same no matter what state or country we are from.

We all loaded into the van, women were from all over the US and there was a woman from Canada. She actually had to sit right in front of me, sitting on 2 cases of water, facing me, as we were one seat short. As we drove, we started talking and getting to know one another, and Carter also told us about the areas we were driving through. We passed gorgeous houses and ranches..neighborhoods where many famous singers lived, as Nashville is definitely a place to come and record music. Carter pointed out that they are well known for their recording studios. My son has actually gone to Nashville with his band a few times, and he has said on more than one occasion that he would love to live there. As we drove to the ranch, listening to Carter share about the area and the people, I began to understand why.

As we pulled onto ranch, there was a big “Unleash the Champion” sign. Horses were in the meadow, and it was a beautiful piece of property. We pulled up to a huge white tented area, where there were such nice people there to greet us. They had bags for each of us, with the logo of the company that Hannah works for, and each bag was filled with fun stuff for us…”Unleash the Champion” shirts, bracelets, water bottles, bars, magazines, etc. We all hung out there for a while sharing stories and getting to know one another as each group arrived. I got to share some of my Dr. Oz story with a few women. We continued to mingle while waiting for our rooms to be ready.

At one point, a beautiful woman got out of a car that pulled up, we all actually thought it was Hannah, as she had sunglasses on, and we couldn’t fully tell, and we were all saying, “Hannah’s here.” As she got closer, she took off her glasses, and it was Carter’s wife, Candice. She and Hannah could be sisters. She had actually just had major surgery a few days before, and was still healing, but she was there to greet all of us, and help with everything. I talked to her for a bit, and when I told her my name, she knew who I was right away, and actually said, “oh you were one of the first ones to sign up. I know, because as people signed up, I started to pray for them by name.”

I was just so totally blessed in that moment. Candice, Carter’s wife, had been praying for all of us by name since we signed up…what an incredible gift. Especially since I know even just for my circumstance, that only by the grace of God and with much prayer, was I able to take a week off from all of my responsibilities at home, especially with my ailing parents, and be at this retreat.  I know that only through prayer and God’s grace and timing.. was I on this ranch, along with each and every other person there…”for such a time as this”.

A little while later, we were driven up to the lodge, and on the way, we were told that our room assignments were written on the back of our name tags. We found our luggage on the porch and then entered the beautiful lodge and were directed to our rooms.  Ours was up the stairs, off the main living room, in a section by itself. We had a bathroom in the room and another small one in the hallway….so great! Then when we entered the room, there were 2 sets of bunk beds, a bed up in a high loft and a queen bed on the other side of the room. Mine was the queen bed!!! Wow!…God knew ahead of time that I was going to be up very late every night writing about each day, and there was a lamp next to it that I could leave on while writing, so that I wouldn’t disturb my room mates too much having to keep the light on while writing…. Only God!

As we unpacked and visited and met our room mates, it was already becoming evident that the Lord literally hand picked each one of us to be in that particular room. After we organized all our stuff throughout the room, We were all sitting on our beds, and Darcy asked, “OK, so why are each of you here?” It was a brilliant question that not only broke the ice, but lead our room into the greatest time of sharing some of our stories.  It’s both amazing and beautiful how Christian women can go straight to the “heart to heart” talks. That time of sharing was really special, and we began to build strong friendships from that very first day, those very first hours of meeting one another.
After our great visit in our room, we all went downstairs to dinner. For this first night only, it was in the kitchen/dining area of our lodge. It was set up sooo beautifully. It felt like a beautiful fall dinner in a log cabin. The tables were set with candles and pine cones and wooden trays. We met our cook/chef, Chris, and his assistants. He explained all of the healthy foods we were about to eat, how they were prepared, the approximate calories, and he showed us what a healthy portion was. Everything was so delicious, and as moms/busy women, it was such a gift to have someone cook such incredible, healthy meals for us.

As we sat at our tables, we started to meet more of the women, shared more of our stories. I heard a beautiful accent coming from the table next to us, and found out it was a woman who flew all the way in from England. She was inspired through the internet watching Hannah and Olivia on the BL, and she had lost 100 pounds! Her name was Mary ( in my head I referred to her as Queen Mary from England, so that I wouldn’t forget her name-later). When I had the time in the coming days to hear how she lost 100 pounds, I found out the she just walked and cut back on food portions…wow! What an inspiration!

During our dinner, Keith Curlee (Hannah and Olivia’s dad) stopped at our table for a visit. He is absolutely one of the most precious men I have ever met. He had driven another van of girls from the airport. He was so excited to share with us, that since the show, his family has all gotten on board, and together they have lost over 700 pounds! He was almost 100 pounds down. He was just so proud. He said to us, “I use to eat my daily bread, and everyone else’s daily bread!  Now I have learned just to eat my own, and not too much of it.”  I told him that one of my favorite episodes on The Biggest Loser, was watching him play volleyball with Hannah. He got choked up a bit, and said that it still makes him cry just thinking about it. What a special man. It was really great to meet him in person. I have read many of his wise words, and would love to hear him preach or speak one day. I think he will be one of UTC’s speakers on a retreat one day, he has a lot of great wisdom to share, and I would love to hear him speak.

As we continued visiting at the table, another women heard my name and said,“Oh, you’re Wendyweighsin!, I read your entire blog on vacation. I stayed by the lake and didn’t get up until I read the entire thing!”  I was stunned, excited, had goose bumps on my arms,… literally trying to take in the fact that, again, someone far away, who didn’t know me, was reading my blog and was inspired. Wow….again, think about all that is happening so far… can you believe this is just day1?!

After dinner, Carter gave some instructions about signing up, as everything was optional. There were sign-ups for boot camp, hikes-moderate and hard, etc. We decided right from the start, as room mates, that we weren’t going to miss one thing. No matter how hard something was, we would all try it together. So we went right over and signed up for everything. At one point, we were all told that there were only so many spots in the van for boot camp each morning, but one of our room mates, Beth, had her car, so we could all drive together, to and from the gym (which was 45 min. away), and this way we would get to go every day. Although it seems like 45 minutes was a long way to go for boot camp every morning, this actually became a great time for all of us to visit and get to know one another even better….ONLY GOD!

So after having dinner and completing all of the sign ups, we were all standing around visiting in the lodge, everyone was getting to know each other, and shared about how excited they were to meet our “inspirations from The Biggest Loser”. I was standing near the front door, in the main foyer, talking with Carter and his wife, Candice. I was sharing about how I knew Olivia, how she was a big part of my story and journey so far, and also shared a bit about my Dr. Oz story. As we were sharing stories, the front door opened….and in walked Hannah, Olivia, Courtney and Marci, and another amazing woman, Mary-Nell, also known as Murn, who you will learn about as our story unfolds during the week….well, Oh-My-Goodness!!… we were all completely star struck! They walked in, slowly conversations halted, and everyone looked over toward the front door, and we were all just in awe! They all walked in, spread out, and just started hugging each of us… saying hi, thanking US for coming!…they were all so genuinely happy to meet all of us. First I hugged Hannah as she came in, introduced myself, and she was so excited to meet me, and knew who I was already because of Olivia. Then, it was so exciting for me to see Olivia and just hug her.. she is just extraordinary, and really continues to inspire me every time I see her. Then I hugged Marci and Courtney, and they already knew who I was from Olivia. I was astounded! I had just dreamed of somehow getting to know all of them during the week ahead, and they already knew who I was. Really??!!!!

After they greeted and hugged everyone, they sort of ended up spreading out  in the rooms… and I’m telling you, within moments, each of them, individually on their own, just began to visit and share from their hearts with the women around them in such a beautiful, honest and precious way. They shared right from their hearts, answered every question we had, and listened to some of our own personal stories.

I spent the first part of the night talking to Courtney. She is absolutely so beautiful in person. She just glows and shines as she speaks, with a joy and passion and love that goes beyond words. Her mom, Marci, was only a few steps away with some women around her. She also exudes such joy and love and confidence and passion… and it was really beautiful to see how close they are, even keeping an eye on each other.. And even from afar, sharing some stories together as we all listened. What an incredible mother/daughter relationship. You could see it on the show, but to stand there and just see in their eyes…and personally feel their love, respect, admiration for one another, and the way their stories and lives are so intertwined, was such a gift that night.

I asked Courtney all about her surgeries, and she was so honest about everything she has been through. Anything I asked, she just shared from her heart. It was just incredible. Just as in our room with my room mates, we all , as women, shared heart to heart that evening. I got to visit with all of them. First Courtney and Marci, then Hannah and Mary Nell for a while, and towards the end of the night, when things were winding down, I was in a circle of women listening to Olivia. At one point, while she was talking, Olivia mentioned a little bit of my story, and with that, another woman said, “oh YOUR Wendyweighsin?”…I continue to be absolutely blown away at the thought of these women reading my story from all areas of the US, and even Canada! And, again, it was quite a surreal moment to be in a group of women, all there to meet and hear from Olivia, and have her share a bit of my story with them.  CRAZY! I keep wanting someone to pinch me at times…. ONLY GOD!

We all took some pictures with the girls, and we were then reminded that we all had to get up around 3am, as we had to leave for our first bootcamp workout in the morning by 4:10am! Carter said that we really had to let the girls leave and also get some sleep, so everyone said good-bye, and as they all headed out the door, I have to just tell you…
they went from walking in as “super stars”, to leaving us that night, already as girl friends. It was absolutely surreal, like walking through a dream…. the whole evening.. the whole day!…and to think all this unfolded and was orchestrated in such a mighty way…..and it is only the end of day 1!

We went to our room, it was really late, but we all had to figure out what we would need to take out for the morning, as we would be getting up around 3am, leaving at 4am, and had 5 women sharing 2 bathrooms (praising God for that second one!) The nerves started to kick in for me, trying to decide what to wear, what to bring to the gym, starting to worry a bit… “what if I can’t handle what we will have to do?”

I laid everything out, packed my bag, filled my water bottle, then, although it was so late, I stayed up for a while to write down as much as I could remember about the entire day, so that I wouldn’t forget a thing. I was absolutely exhausted, but knew I had to get it all written down. I realized at this point, also, why the Lord blessed me with the queen bed with the lamp on the other side of the room…it was so I wouldn’t disturb all of my room mates who wanted to get to sleep as soon as possible. I continue to be absolutely amazed at how he cares about every detail of our lives.

So, already, I head to bed,  at the end of day 1…saying my prayers, praising Him for all that He as already done, as well as what He is going to do in this week ahead..placing my head on the pillow, exhausted and in awe….knowing for sure….ONLY GOD!

Had the perfect day before leaving for bootcamp…

Started the day off at Weight Watchers. My friend, Lorraine, and I celebrated this morning as I lost 1.4 pounds and she lost 2 pounds. It’s always a better meeting when you are sitting there with some loss…I know it’s not suppose to be about the number, but it does have a lot of influence, unfortunately. However, last week was the first week that I could sit there with a bit of a gain and be ok with it, as I knew I did everything right the whole week, but the night before ww, went to a progressive dinner and drank 64 ounces of water throughout the night in order to stay on track with the food. So I was really proud of myself, and the water really helped, but I was drinking that water from 6-10:30pm, so I know it had to be water weight on the scale. But to truly be ok after a gain that morning was a huge step. Our leader, the people who weigh us in, and the entire group is filled with such special people. I wish everyone could experience a morning with these special people who are so honest and encouraging. We are all in this together, and you can just feel such a camaraderie in that room. They are all so excited for me as I leave on this trip, and I can’t wait to share with them next Saturday morning. I’m sure that I will be sharing so much of what they have all taught me with everyone this week.

Anyway, after WW, I finished up some packing and organizing everything at home for my family while I am away. I also have been blessed with the greatest gifts while being away….. Lorraine set up meals to be delivered to my parents from her along with the church meals ministry, my brother is flying in from California to help with my parents, my husband is incredible and has everything under control with my house and my children…so all of this puts me at ease and allows me to go with a wonderful peace.

This afternoon, to top it off, Lorraine also met me at a nail spa and treated me to a manicure/pedicure, with an extra 10 minute foot rub….absolute heaven! Another very special gift. I am so blessed.

As I packed, my daughter took a few pictures of me in some of my new workout clothes, so that I could have the pictures for this journey. It was a really fun photo shoot, as she is taking photography in school, and she made me feel so great, she really is proud of me.

So, there are lots of butterflies in my stomach, my bags are by the back door, the flight is very early in the morning. I am just praying that this week will just take my breathe away, and I will return with those 2 amazing words….only God! I’m praying that he uses everyone there, including me, to just touch lives in a mighty way. That He will bring me to a new level physically, mentally and spiritually. I just can’t wait to take in all of the wisdom and knowledge they all have to share. I don’t want it to go too fast, I know  that this is another part of this journey that I am walking through, that is so much bigger than I am, or can even imagine. Very nervous, yet very excited…. ready to move forward and watch it all unfold….Can’t wait to share it with everyone!

I’M GOING TO BOOTCAMP WITH CARTER HAYS, OLIVIA AND HANNAH, MARCI AND COURTNEY FROM THE BIGGEST LOSER…

I’m Going to Boot Camp….

On September 23, which is only 9 days away from my writing this entry, I am going to be getting on a plane to Nashville, Tennessee, to go to my first boot camp/retreat. The really exciting part is that it is being lead by Carter Hays, Olivia Ward and Hannah Curlee (the sisters who won the Biggest Loser Season 11). If you watched, they were the first team to make it to the finals, and they were known as the “purple team”.

On July 5th, Olivia and Hannah announced this weekend on their myfitspiration blog, and when I saw it, I told my husband that I would love to be able to go to that week. When I said it, I was just dreaming of the possibility. There was a place to tag it on facebook and “like” it, and underneath the tag I wrote, “I would love to go to this”. Well, within minutes there was another post that said….”you are going.” It was from my husband. He bought it for me for my birthday! (which was July 18). I couldn’t believe it! As I was dreaming and contemplating the possibilities, he just did it. (I guess it was meant to be, because it was sold out in 72 hours!…and he made sure I had a spot.

As most of you know, following my story, not only did I watch The Biggest Loser and get inspired by this amazing sister team, but Olivia actually wrote that powerful first email to me that began my whole weight loss journey, “It’s not that you have failed, you just don’t have the knowledge”. Then, shortly after she stood on that scale 129 pounds down, with confetti dropping and her hands straight up in the air with pure joy…she took the time to meet with me for breakfast, share so much of what she learned, and she inspired me, believing that I could do the same.

So for me, this is one of those full circle moments. I am 70 pounds down since that first breakfast with Olivia and her husband, Ben, I still have a long way to go, but I am now about to spend a week with Olivia and Hannah and Carter Hays (Hannah’s trainer), along with Marci and Courtney (also contestants from the Biggest Loser…Courtney was the girl who lost 100 pounds before she could go on the ranch, and then lost even more when she got there. They were the mother/daughter team, who also owns a Dairy Queen.)

So, these are some of the “celebrities and experts” that I am so blessed to be spending the week with. It will be a week where they all share everything they have learned…from exercise to nutrition to cooking to the spiritual and mental side of what it takes to finally win the battle with weight for good. I know that this week is going to be the most amazing gift, but, yes, there is a part of me that is petrified!

As a woman, you can imagine all the things going through my mind at this point…will I be able to handle the work outs, will I be the last one if we are running or doing a challenge, will I be able to do it all, what will the other women be like who are going, what will I wear to work out in, what will I wear to hang out in, what will I wear to sleep in, what do I have to bring, do I have to bring/wear a bathing suit, do I have the right sneakers, can I last through the multiple workouts for the day?????…….and as the time gets closer, the questions continue.

Getting ready, shopping and packing for this has been a job and experience in itself. I already shared the story of getting fitted for sneakers…but, wow, I have been using them at the track and in my workouts and… what a difference! I have also gone out a few times for some jeans and shirts and clothes to hang out in. Of course, shopping continues to take longer than usual, as I am in between sizes,  I still start by taking in a load of clothes to the dressing room that are way too big, and different stores and designers run so differently in size. I have to get that out of my head at times, that just because the size is bigger in something, doesn’t mean I have gained weight back or increased in size. I am still losing and going down. I have bought larges, extra larges and even 1x in the same day, all because the cut is different.

Another amazing moment occurred at Target last week. I saw that Target now has tall jeans, and are offering 6 different fits for different body types. so I took a chance and grabbed a 14tall to try on. Wasn’t sure if it would even fit, as many times cheaper clothes run smaller, but when I tried them on, they were actually a bit roomy. I don’t know what made me go back out on the floor and grab a size down, but I actually found a 12 tall and took it into the dressing room to give it a try. When I buttoned and zipped those jeans, I just stood there and looked in the mirror, realizing that it was truly another “moment” in this journey. I checked the tag again to make sure it was true, and I just could barely believe it. Now, I know that I am not a true size 12 in everything …yet. But I can say that I fit in a pair of jeans that are a size 12. I have not been in a size 12 since I was in high school. (and a year ago I was in a size 22)

I needed this moment, because I have been stuck all summer at the 70 pound weight loss. I have really plateaued, and I’m doing everything I can to keep going. I have cried on the scale a few Saturday mornings at WW, because this is the first summer that I have stayed on a diet, exercised 5 times a week all summer long, and I truly thought I would have been another 5-10 pounds down.
About 12 weeks ago, we filled out a post card at WW to ourselves, which we had to give back to the leader, knowing that it would be mailed to us Labor Day weekend. I remember being so fired up, going into the summer, believing that I could keep going for the first summer in my entire life. Other summers, I would either take a break for the summer, or would do something extreme for the summer to start, and then give up midway, promising myself that I would start when the kids went back to school and I would “get back on a schedule and lose the weight.” This was the first summer of my life that I hung in there the entire summer.

I’m not saying that I was perfect. In fact, let me share with you something that I did that I hope I will never do again…In July, we were suppose to go away to California on our vacation, but with my mom and dad’s medical issues, I knew that I couldn’t leave. It was really hard to accept that we wouldn’t be going away on any family vacations this summer, which is something I hold onto…being able to just get away with my husband and children alone, even if it is not anywhere extravagant. It is a time to just be with one another on the same schedule, which gets harder and harder with all of their activities, jobs, etc. My brother decided to come in with his 2 children, so that we could at least together. the kids could be with their cousins, and he could help me with my parents.

My brother has been one of my biggest supporters, so he was all ready to make sure we worked out every day. He even came to my gym for a class. During the week, I told him that one of my goals was to run the Turkey trot on Thanksgiving, which is a 5 mile run, so he even got me up on the track and showed me that I could already run a mile without stopping. That was pretty amazing to find out that I was able to do that. (a week later, after he left, I ran 2 miles with my daughter, and then ran 3 miles with my husband). Still working up to the 5 miles.

In the meantime, during the week my brother was here, I made a big mistake and decided to relax, not count points or food for the week, and in our “vacation” mode, my brother made sure around 5 o’clock, cocktails were flowing. I haven’t done that in a long time, because the points and calories for alcohol have not been worth it, and of course while drinking, the chips and pretzels and dips arrive…not a smart place to put myself in. Well, although I didn’t go absolutely crazy with food and drinks, and we did exercise every day while he was here, when I got on the scale Friday night when he left, I was up 10 pounds in that one week!!! I couldn’t believe it. I thought maybe 2 or 3, but 10!…I was shocked and upset and just started to beat myself up. It took me weeks to lose 10 pounds, and here the scale was saying that I put 10 on in just one week.

I knew that I would go to ww the next morning no matter what, but I chose not to weigh in. I wasn’t going to have a 10 pound gain in one week on my card. ( I did track it on my graph, though. I have to face it. I went to ww and got right on target that day, and a friend of mine who worked for ww said, don’t worry, it is not all “real” weight. You lost it slowly and the right way, you didn’t really gain 10 pounds in one week. That was easy for her to say. but I was stuck on that number from the night before. I wouldn’t have believed it, had I not lived through this one also, but Saturday night, after getting back on track for 1 day, drinking all my water, etc. I was already down 6 pounds!   Thank God, she was right, it wasn’t all “real” weight. And i’m so thankful that I went to ww the very next day to get back on track. Years ago, I would have given up at that point for the summer, and promised myself to start after Labor Day when the kids went back to school. Not this time!

That was the good news, but the tough news has been that I have been playing around with that last 4 for a few weeks now, and it is not gone for good, yet. I have been eating so clean, perfect weighing and measuring, and the scale is stuck. I have exercised 5 days a week, and even jogged at the track a few times, and it is just not moving. I have broken down in tears a few times on the scale, even handed my weekly food diary to the leaders at ww, who looked at it and said it is really perfect, the only thing they said to try is to flip breakfast and lunch to change it up a bit, but they keep promising that the scale will catch up. A few people asked if I had measured my body lately, so that I could see that I am losing inches and my body is still changing, which was great, because I hadn’t done that since April, for the Dr. Oz finale. It was great to see the loss in inches. It was a great discovery to see that my body is still changing in inches all over.

So, the loss in inches, along with buying a size 12 pair of jeans, are my off scale victories for now, that I have to hold onto, as I am waiting for the scale to move. I also had blood work done and a saliva test to see if there is anything going on hormonally in my body.

In the meantime, although I am petrified…I am also beyond excited,with great expectation of all that I am going to learn at this retreat/bootcamp. I will be spending the week with others who have gone through all that I am going through, and I am praying that all of their wisdom and knowledge will take me to a new level in this weight loss, fitness and health journey. Holding onto the promise that…, I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.

I will write as much as I can during the week, and I will try to post it each day so that I can share all that I am learning and experiencing that week. I know, based on all that I have been through, along with how this all unfolded, in somewhat of a “full circle moment”, that this is truly a “divine appointment”, and I can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for all of us that week. Looking forward to sharing it with all of you.

PS. Remember that Labor Day card I wrote to myself 12 weeks ago? I was so worried about getting it in the mail, as I couldn’t remember what I had written to myself, and with this plateau after the weight gain in July, i was so afraid to read it and feel that I had failed at my goal. Well, It arrived last week, and this is what I had written…

“O.K. Wend,-12 weeks until Labor Day!-Today you gained 1.8 pounds, because Dad is in rehab after his stroke, crazy week. You need a goal for summer to continue your amazing success. The summer will be crazy, but you CAN continue to do this!
1.) I will do the rowing class and the race
2.) I will work out 4x a week this summer
3.) I will be in a new number.
It’s going to be a rough summer– remember Wendy–“after me, you come first.”

I was so relieved to finally read the post card, as I had totally forgotten what I wrote. What is amazing, is that I didn’t just put..”you will lose ___pounds by Labor Day.”

Because of that, I was able to celebrate what I wrote…I not only finished the rowing class, but our boat won the entire final race!…a night I will never forget. I worked out 5x’s a week most of the summer, and although I am at a plateau, I am in a new number.
I actually kept this postcard to remind myself that I really made these goals during a very very difficult summer. It’s a nice feeling to be proud of myself, especially after getting a postcard that I thought was going to really be disappointing.

So, I am excited to continue setting wonderful goals…and going to my first retreat/bootcamp in the coming week is going to be a week filled with incredible goals to accomplish!

ANOTHER FIRST…JUST GOT FITTED FOR NEW SNEAKERS AT NEW BALANCE

In September, I will be going to a fitness retreat entitled “Unleash Your Champion”, which is going to be lead by Carter Hays, along with Olivia Ward (winner of the Biggest Loser), her sister, Hannah and some other amazing inspirational people who will be sharing all that they have learned with us, from fitness to nutrition, etc. I am both excited and petrified to go. One of the things I know that I will need are great sneakers. I emailed Carter to ask him what he recommended, and he told me that he really liked New Balance, and suggested that I go to a place that really fits me the right way. I kept this in the back of my mind, and knew that it would be on my “to do” list as I got closer to the retreat, but then the other night we ended up having dinner in a place that was actually next door to a New Balance store.
After dinner, I walked over to check out the store. When I walked in, I noticed right away that they had one of “those fancy foot measuring machines” on the far back wall. I stopped as I walked in and saw the machine. On one hand, I was excited that I was actually in a New Balance store that had the machine to measure me, on the other hand, as I saw the big flat screen TV on the wall over the foot machine on the floor, my very first thought was….does my weight come up on that screen? Do they have to know my weight in order to fit me for sneakers? (those tough times of being measured for skis went through my mind, where you have to give your weight in order to rent or buy skis).

As all of this was going through my mind, and I was already thinking of heading for the door, a salesman walked up to me and asked if he could help me. I hesitated as my eyes were fixed on that TV on the wall, and then I explained that I had never been properly fitted for sneakers, I was headed to a week of “boot camp”, and I needed great sneakers that would be comfortable for working out. “However,” I said to him, “can I ask you a question?”, will my weight come up on that machine, or do you have to know my weight in order for me to be fitted for sneakers?” When he answered, “absolutely not”, my whole body relaxed in relief. I know it may sound like the stupidest thing ever, but that is what I was concerned about, and pretty much willing to walk out if they needed that information.
Once I could relax, he asked me if I had any problems with my feet, what kind of exercise I was doing, etc…I was able to share with him that I have a lot of pain in my right foot due to a Mortons Neuroma, and he said he had the same thing and completely understood. With all of the measurements he took, along with listening to my exercise regimen, he brought out 3 boxes. He knew from the beginning which ones I would end up with, but he let me make the decision. He also placed special inserts in, which he cut specifically to alleviate the pressure on my neuroma. He was so knowledgable and so kind and so patient. My husband and daughter were with me and helped me make the decision. I actually had my husband take pictures to document another “first”…mainly because I wanted to write and share with all the other women who are apprehensive about walking in a store and being fitted for sneakers.

As the salesman rang me up, I had the chance to thank him so much for making it such a nice experience. I shared a little bit with him about just losing 70 pounds, and told him a little bit about the Dr. Oz challenge. Then I was really honest and told him all that I was thinking when I walked through those doors that evening. He had no idea that someone would worry about their weight being on the machine, or for someone to be a bit nervous to go through the whole fitting process.

I told him how much it meant to me that he walked over to me right away as I was standing there, and in such a kind way, put me at ease, and made the whole process easy and enjoyable, and believe it or not, special for me. It was another ‘first’, and just as I felt months ago walking into the gym…walking into a fancy sneaker store was a bit intimidating…it’s one of “those” stores for ‘”real athletes”. And he went on to assure me this store was for anyone who needed great sneakers to keep you comfortable and fit you the right way to that you can do what you want to do, and that he really loved being able to help people find exactly what they needed.

We exchanged our business cards, as he wanted to read about my story, and I told him I might even be back to buy some running shoes one day….who knows? For now, I walked out with comfortable sneakers which were cross fit shoes to handle the different work outs I am doing, along with started to jog a bit. I told him that one of my next goals was to jog the “Turkey Trot” on Thanksgiving, which is 5 miles, so he made sure my sneakers would be great for that also.

The next night, which was the night of the finale of the 2012 summer Olympics, my daughter and I went up to the track, and we jogged 4 times around..1 mile….without stopping. My brother believed that I could do it, and just kept telling me to just do it…so we did! It was another unbelievable achievement..Grace and I high fived at the finish line, and went home to watch the Olympics, feeling ourselves like awesome athletes…I guess I did belong in that store!!!….and…my feet felt great! I can check sneakers off of my packing list….ready to go and learn how to “Unleash my inner Champion”.

My new sneaks!!

Me on the foot analyzer.

2012 Olympics?… Not Really, But It Felt Like It…

Have you ever felt like you were actually in the Olympics, feeling the excitement of crossing a finish line, hearing the crowds screaming for you, and then realizing that you really did cross it first?…

this past winter, as I was continuing with the Dr. Oz challenge, looking for new ways to work out and mix it up and lose the weight, the owner of my gym, who also created the entire Port  Rowing crew team in our town, decided to see if adults would be interested in learning how to row and experience what it would be like to race in a crew boat.

When I first signed up, I was only going to do the training indoors for the winter, just to add a new workout to lose the weight.  At that point, I never dreamed of getting in the actual boats, mainly because I truly didn’t believe that I would ever fit in those little seats in that long, skinny boat. Again, as many other times in my life, I was going to give up an amazing opportunity to try something new and experience something great due to my own inhibitions and embarrassment with my weight and size.

On the second night of rowing on the indoor ergs (rowing machines), the instructor asked us if we wanted to go over to the other section and get into the simulator, which was an actual crew boat, set up high with the oars out the sides, placed in front of a long mirror so that you could see everyone and learn to row together in the right form. I hesitated, and let the first group of women give it a try. As I watched from afar, I thought, “Wendy. this is your chance to see if you can do this, just walk over and give it a try in this safe place.” I remember actually asking the coach if he thought that I could fit in those tiny seats. Without any hesitation he said, “absolutely”.

When the first group of women finished, I stepped over with the second group to give it a try. I climbed into the boat, sat in the seat, and literally breathed a sigh of relief that I actually fit and was fine. Then I strapped my feet in, grabbed the oar and followed the coach’s instructions, as he got us all rowing in sync. It was a great feeling, and I remember looking in the mirror as I rowed and thinking, I would love to feel what if feels like to actually be on the water doing this. Could this actually be a possibility one day?

As the spring came, Steve asked if there were enough adults who would like to have an adult rowing team for the month of July, who would actually like to get out on the water, learn how to row, and then we would end with a race night, where we would all get to experience what it feels like to race these boats. Crew is something I have only seen on TV, or in movies, or pictured others doing if you go to elite universities. It is not something that I ever even imagined or dreamed of doing in my lifetime….but here I was, being offered the opportunity to do something I never even dreamed of.

Of course, for those of you who know me, I don’t like to do anything alone, so I knew that if I was going to do this, I had to ask friends to join me. My idea, as I first started out dreaming about who would be in our boat was to have couples…it would be a few great nights of rowing with our husbands…rowing mixed in as a date night.

At first, I had a full boat of couples, but the real confirmation only came from the wives, when it was actually time for signing up, all of the husbands dropped out, except mine. But, as we have all seen in this journey. even with this situation, God was already orchestrating who would be in the boats, and how it would all turn out each and every week.

The first night, my husband and I drove down to the beach with both excitement and fear. We were all broken up into different boats that first night. My husband and I stayed together, and the first night was all about learning how to carry the boats and oars down to the water, how to launch the boat, and then when we got out on the water, we had to learn all the basics of keeping the boat level, etc. It was a gorgeous night out on the water, the sun setting was so beautiful, and so many times I just felt so blessed to be out there with my husband experiencing something I had never done before.

The coaches were amazing….so patient and so knowledgable in teaching adults how to come together, learn how to row and set the boat, and feel the ultimate experience of having that long boat glide along the water. It really was exhilarating.

After coming back in after our first night, the coaches said to email them our teams for the next time, so that we could continue for the rest of the month with our own team. One of our teammates said that she really thought her coach was extraordinary that night, so when we emailed our crew team, we requested him as our coach ( OK, God definitely chose him for us)

Walking to the car that first night, I just hugged and kissed my husband and thanked him for doing this with me. I know that he only chose to be there for me, and I know it was also an extra gift that he hung in there after finding out that all of the other husbands chose not to do it. I’m so blessed to have experienced this together with him.

The following week we had our team and our coach, Anthony, and we started to learn to really row and set together. First rowing 2 at a time, then adding in 3 and 4…and  ultimately having 8 people row at once. Again, each night, to be out on the beautiful Long Island Sound, gliding across the water, watching the sun setting on the glistening water.. being instructed by a great young man who brought such joy and fun to the entire experience….who believed even on that first night of us being all together, that we could possibly win the final race…the only word I keep saying over and over again…amazing!

Each week we learned a little more and tweaked what we learned to make the boat move faster and better. With it being summer, and each of us having various vacations, there were nights that we had to have others substitute in, but it always worked out. Unfortunately, in the last week, two of our teammates, Lorraine and Katie,  hurt their backs, and could not row the final week and final race night with us. We, and they, were so bummed.

As the final race night approached, we got excited and told friends/family to come down and watch. Pr. Charley (the husband of our teammate, Jean), borrowed a big cow bell so that we could hear him cheering for us from the water, Lorraine and Katie and friends they had just picked up from the airport, from Malta, were all there at the end of a long dock to cheer us on. We got our boat onto the water. Our coach, Anthony, had us row around a bit and get ready for the race. We rowed all 8, down to the marker in the water. The night was beautiful, the sun was still bright, the water glistened, all 4 boats were all practicing and finding their way to the starting line. We lined up against one other boat for the first race.

Steve gave the starting call, and we all began to row our best. Our coxwain (the person who sits on the back facing all of us, who also steers),called out the stokes to our first stroke person, (who happened to be her mom)…and we all followed her. My husband, Warren, was in front of me as we rowed. As we pulled and glided across the water, we could hear the cow bell ringing and everyone yelling on the dock for us. As we crossed the finish line, we lost the first race by a boat length. We were bummed, but then found out that that was the boat of adults who had been on crew teams in college and had rowed before. When we heard that, our disappointment in losing turned to being proud of how close we were to them at the finish. We stayed a bit past the finish line to watch the next 2 boats race. Then we lined up to race the winner of that race.

For our second race, we pulled out way ahead and won. We then waited for that boat to reach the finish line, and we cheered for them as they came across. The sun was starting to set, so they decided to do one last race with all of us racing against each other. It took a while for everyone to line up, and then the final race began…

We all rowed as hard as we could, our strokes were being called out perfectly. At one point our first stroke person, Peggy, said she wasn’t sure she could keep going….with that, my husband, who never gets crazy about winning, never gets loud….started to shout, “come on, you can do this, just keep going, come on, PULL, PULL, PULL!”,  With his powerful encouragement, I pulled harder and harder. Then Anthony yelled to us through his bull horn, “come on, 30 more, 30 more for Lorraine and Katie”, who he knew were yelling on the dock for us, so bummed that they couldn’t be in the boat with us. Then he yelled, “come on! 20 more, 20 more for Lorraine and Katie!” We pulled even harder, I was sweating, my legs were burning as they pumped, and we were all in sync gliding so fast across the water…we could hear Anthony shouting, we were yelling to each other, we could hear the cow bell and all of the yelling from the dock as we got closer….and then we heard Anthony yell, “power10!’ (10 strokes to go, give it your all). Well, we all did….the paddles were stroking together, the boat was ripping across the water, and as the excitement and cheering and cow bell got louder and louder, we saw the finish line pass us!!! Then, we looked up to see how we did….we looked ahead to see if anyone was passed us…no one…then looked behind and counted 3 boats….WE WON!! We beat everyone, including the boat of real rowers…I felt like we were in the Olympics, and just won a gold metal! We passed down high fives along the entire boat, we screamed and whistled back to everyone on the dock….then we rowed back into the beach soooo excited at what we had just accomplished! It was the GREATEST feeling! I still get chills when I think about it.

As we came to the beach, our great “cheering section” met us and said they got great pictures. They continued to take more as we came onto shore and put the boat away. We took our team picture, and we all got together to thank Anthony for taking a bunch of adults who knew nothing about rowing crew, and with his amazing patience, along with his gifts of teaching, coaching and laughter…brought us to first place….we took the gold!

An overweight woman who was sure months ago that she would never get in that long small boat with little seats, was sitting behind her husband in a crew boat… yelling, whistling and celebrating…with the hugest smile, taking in all that just happened…thanking God for another amazing moment in this tremendous weight loss journey.

As we walked to the car, I just stopped and threw my arms around my husband and thanked him so much for doing this with me. Everyone loved having a guy in the boat, and he really got everyone to work hard in the end, during the last race, as he shouted to encourage us all to keep going and work through it. But most of all, we got to experience something new together. We got to have our “date nights” rowing and exercising together, and we got to do something we never even dreamed or imagined doing. And the best part of accomplishing something new that I never dreamed of, it increases my faith and hope and belief that I can do something else that I never thought I could do. Can’t wait to see what that will be….starting to believe the sky’s the limit!

My Birthday Letter…

 

As I enter my birthday week, it has constantly been impressed on my heart that I have to write a “thank you” note to all the people who have brought me to this week… where on this Wednesday, July 18th, I not only celebrate turning 48… but also celebrate that I am 70 pounds lighter than I was on my last birthday! What a gift!

On September 26, 2011, Dr. Oz announced the Transformation Nation Challenge, and I remember, literally, sitting up on the edge of my sofa, writing in my notebook where I keep notes from his show, believing for the very first time in my life, that I would not only take on this challenge and finally win the battle with this weight, but I believed at that point that I could win the entire challenge.

When the show was over, I went right over to my computer and filled out everything that I had to in order to sign up. The starting weight and final weight had to be done at a Weight Watchers, so I also looked up the meetings in my area. I knew that I didn’t want to bump into any one that I knew while weighing in, so I would go to the next town over. That Saturday, October 1, 2011, I weighed in to get my official Dr. Oz sheet. (I remember being so ashamed of that beginning number, as soon as I got home, I even sealed it in an envelope, in my Dr. Oz Transformation Nation folder, where I knew no one would ever see it.)

After weighing in, I remembered that Dr. Oz said that the first meeting would be free, so I went in, to just go to my one “free meeting”, knowing that I had been to ww meetings a few times during my life, and I thought I would just pick up the information, find out what was “new”, and I could just do it “on my own”. I wasn’t going to “waste the money”.

I walked in, sat in the back seat on the end, read through the material while I waited for the meeting to start, not really sure how long I would stay, even for that morning….depending on “how good” it would be. Well, a blonde woman came to the front of the room… she was beautiful not only on the outside, but when she began to lead the meeting with such honesty and excitement, literally bursting with all that she wanted to pass onto us, that she clearly had lived and continues to live herself on a daily basis…passing on the most amazing tidbits of information, filled with incredible wisdom, I couldn’t get enough. She passed around her, “before” picture, which also blew me away, clearly seeing what she had accomplished, herself.

The other amazing thing about this meeting was that I learned just as much from the people in the group there. I had never experienced a meeting like this in my entire life. I knew that morning, after meeting both Elyse, my leader, and the members in that room, that I could not do this challenge without them. I have been sitting in that back row on the end seat for almost 9 months now, only missing 2 or 3 meetings due to being away. I have told other friends, even strangers… If I miss my meeting, it’s like missing an amazing sermon in the midst of an incredible sermon series, along with missing your “meeting friends” for a week. I still don’t know some of their names, but we all know how much we miss each person when they are not there. (and I think we are up to around 60-70 people in our special group). I wish that I could get up one day in that group and let them know how much they have impacted my life, and continue to do so every Saturday morning. I don’t “have to” go to Weight Watchers….I “get to” go to Weight Watchers, and it is such a highlight of my week, I can’t even put it into words.

As I continued to pray every single day for the Lord to help me finally win this battle with my weight, one by one, I began to see all of the “God-incidences” (because I don’t believe in coincidences), occurring over and over again. This journey started to become something even bigger and more extraordinary than I ever could have imagined.

As I have written in my blog and journal, and shared with many people as I have shared this journey, my belief that I could finally do this came from Olivia Ward (winner of the Biggest Loser), and her husband Ben. As a family, we watched Olivia on television, week after week, and also watched Ben lose over 100 pounds, right in front of us, every week as he lead the worship time in church. We prayed for Olivia and Hannah, “The Purple Team” on the Biggest Loser, as they continued on the show. When Olivia walked into church on Christmas Eve,(as they were given a week to come home to see how they could do on their own), she took my breathe away. I was stunned at how much weight she had lost already, and how great she looked. I had promised myself that I would lose the weight along with her as I watched the show, and there I was on Christmas Eve, probably heavier than in the fall when she left and started. After saying hello and telling her how amazing she looked, I walked back to my chair and tears just flowed down my cheeks as I just prayed and kept asking God, “why can’t I do this? Why can’t I find the motivation to do this? Why can’t I do what Olivia has done? What will it take for me to be able to get where she is? Will I ever be fit and thin again? Can I do it before I turn 50 one day?” ….the questions just kept being asked, and I could barely concentrate on the Christmas service, already promising myself that I would begin…”after Christmas and New Year’s”. Yes, again, my New Year’s Resolution was to lose weight and get fit.

January flew by, I think I started off, again, strict with the food and trying to do a few exercise tapes, getting outside when it wasn’t so cold.  I tried a few of the latest fad diets, like the “17 day diet”, I probably lost some weight quickly, in an extreme way again… and by the end of January, with the cold weather, excuses not to exercise, letting “life” get in the way again, eager to put everyone else first except me,…I continued to watch Olivia and Hannah lose over 120 pounds each and win the entire thing! As I saw her get closer to her goal, and watched the episode where She and Ben reunited, seeing each other for the first time since Christmas on national television, astounded at how amazing they each looked, I then thought, maybe when she comes home she can tell me what she learned.

Well, the finale ended, she was now an instant major superstar, and I wondered if she would ever have a little time to give me… for me to just ask her how to do what she did and  how she finally accomplished her goal. So I sent this email on July 10th of last year….

Hey Olivia,
I hope you are getting my emails through this. Although I follow you and Hannah on Facebook through my husband, Warren’s account, I don’t have one, and believe it or not, I don’t know how to twitter. LOVE the “myfitspiration blog”. Not sure I am ready for the sports bra challenge, maybe in my own home. Wish with all my heart that I was at the place you and Hannah are….. I would put on a great color sports bra and sign up for that class on the 29th and meet you there, even though I have no idea how to spin. But like many others, I am at the place right now where you and Hannah were last summer……so sad not to be able to walk around in a bathing suit, hiding under big shirts and capri pants, wishing I could just put on cute shorts and a tank top, or a cute little sleeveless dress for all of the parties/weddings I have to go to.  The sentence that hit me on your blog was the one where you pointed out how much you have missed in life….. just by hiding. We’ve all been there, and like you pointed out, so many missed opportunities through the years, not swimming with friends or with the kids, or choosing not to go somewhere, because your ashamed of how you look. I keep thinking that you guys were there just a year ago, and think maybe by next summer there is a possibility for me to be as free as you are now, I just can’t get started and stick to it. I saw the new TV show being publicized on Hannah’s wall looking for people who want to lose 50-100 pounds, but I know that I could never do it publicly where you have to let the whole world know your weight. I still don’t know how you guys walked up on that scale the first time in sports bras back then…..but because you did, we are all now soooo inspired by your bravery and honesty….and I want somehow to lose the weight,  to be that person for others, helping and blogging and connecting and inspiring, like you girls are doing. I really want to figure it out like you have done, and again when things slow down a bit for you, would love to ask you about some of the head stuff, and get your best everyday tips.

We just got back from an amazing family vacation. I did everything with everyone, remembering as you said, not to miss it. I had the best time, but my husband just put an amazing video together of all the pictures to music, and I absolutely love it, until I see a picture of myself come up, I just get soooo upset at the way I look. I’m sure you remember looking at pictures and thinking, “is that what I really look like”, and just wishing you looked differently. Then I see your Hampton picture, as you said, sooo surreal, rocking out a bathing suit…..I can’t even imagine, but I want to be able to feel that way, again,  with all my being! You and Ben have done it together, and Warren and I just want to get to that point of feeling and living a healthy lifestyle forever. We last a few weeks, then with kids schedules, etc…..blow it. I keep trying to go to Weight Watchers meetings, I last a few weeks, then ruin a day here or there and say, oh I’ll try doing it on my own, because I know I gained and don’t want to get on the scale with a gain, so another week goes by, and failure sets in, gaining back the lost weight and more…

If you and/or Hannah decide to run a support group, or want to take on someone to use to pass it all onto, please let me be one of the people you work with. I will write it all down, follow it all, and share my results on your blog if you want.  Each time I grab another magazine with you guys in it or see you on your blog, I am soooo upset that I didn’t start and stick with it when the BL started last fall, hoping to lose bit by bit along the way, I wouldn’t be here at just about my highest weight in the middle of summer.  Even each week when we saw Ben get smaller and smaller, I thought, oh man, what am I waiting for? So here I am, another summer, sooo upset to be hiding behind the big shirts and three quarter pants.

My brother and kids are leaving today. Hoping tomorrow (yes, another Monday start), to get back to working on it with Warren. If you have any tips at this point to just help us start and stick to it, would love to hear it. I know you are busy with all of the publicity, blogs, opportunities. So for now, I will just keep reading and watching all that you and Hannah are sharing with the world. Keep sharing from your hearts, all the stuff you are sharing really hits home for sooo many of us. As I continue to pray for you guys, please pray for me to win this battle as you have done.

Gotta go and find something to wear for a birthday luncheon today (wish I could just throw something cute on and love the way I looked)…… hopefully someday soon…… Thanks so much for listening,  but more importantly, thanks so much for sharing your whole process with everyone (tell Hannah thank you also), you both continue to give me hope that it really can happen.  Praying that tomorrow is finally the starting point of real success, and that next summer I can be where you guys are now, actually happy to be in a bathing suit. That would be the ultimate dream come true! (I guess the first goal is tucked in shirt with no third layer of clothing on top….maybe a goal for the winter!, Do you girls remember that first moment?)   Love, Wendy

And she wrote back an email that forever changed my life…

Hi Wendy!
I’m so glad you are enjoying the blog!!  It has been a joy to work on.  I would love to get together to chat about all of this and working with you to help you achieve your goals.  I know you can do it….believe me if I can you can.  Like me you just don’t have the knowledge…it’s as simple as that.  It’s not because you have failed…you just need some instruction.  Start to look at it that way…mentally it will make the BIGGEST difference in how you view weight loss.  What are your plans Sunday after church?  Would you like to go to lunch with Ben and I?  I’m going to write down some instructions for you and we can go over them then.  You will start on Monday. 🙂  Let me know if that works for you, if not we can find another time…no worries.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Best,
Olivia

And until I just went back and found these emails, I didn’t know that it was actually the week of my birthday, one year ago, that this all occurred, as I responded…

Hey Olivia,
You just gave me sooo much hope this morning. Sunday would be perfect, and Monday is the best day to start, as it is my birthday! It would be the greatest gift in the world to achieve what you have achieved. Thanks so much, see you Sunday.   Wendy

Wow, as I write this…I can’t believe it has been exactly one year since Olivia and Ben met with me that first morning. I remember sitting there with my notebook, taking in all of their wisdom and knowledge for hours. (of course in between us talking, people would stop by the table after recognizing her, and come over to tell her how she inspired their lives. It was a taste of having breakfast with a celebrity.) And I knew how blessed I was to be able to learn from her and Ben as they shared honestly and openly of the challenges, tough times, hard decisions, hard work. I remember saying to Ben, “I wish I could get to the point where you are, running marathons and loving it.” and he said, “Oh, I don’t love running.” and I remember him explaining that so much of exercising and fitness and eating is a real choice. He explained how he had to just find the strength to get through it sometimes. I had never heard that from anyone before. I just assumed all of “those fit people”, athletes, everyone who has achieved amazing fitness.. love doing it, and I was praying that one day I would love it also. But so much of it is a choice to do it, because it is good for you, and the results will come. You don’t have to love it, you just have to do it.

To this day, even just that great piece of truth is something that I hold onto when I head to a workout or try something new that I am not sure that I am going to like. I still hate spinning, I have gone from absolutely despising it and fearing it, to just hating it. But it is an amazing cardio workout, I do it once a week as one of my classes, every Thursday, and to see my growth and accomplishment in doing something that was so difficult that I could barely get through the first class…to training and accomplishing a spinning race day…to be at a place where I know I could go into any spin class, anywhere, and get through the class, is pretty astounding. And if true athletes like Ben and Olivia weren’t honest with me in saying that they don’t always love working out or running, etc., I never would have gotten to where I am today. Sometimes it’s just a choice to do it, and choice determines your destiny.

When I left that breakfast meeting, I was filled with new knowledge, advice, and wisdom from Olivia and Ben, along with such a gift…the gift that they believed that I could do it. They were sitting there, both over 100 pounds each, lost within a year…they heard some of my story, listened to my fears, frustrations and empathized with me through my tears, and offered to share all that they learned with me…and believed that I could truly accomplish what they had. That was the birthday gift they gave me last year…

The belief was birthed that morning, I ordered my “bodybugg” right away (the armband they wear on the BL, which tracks calories burned, steps, etc.), and I began to get truly honest about moving more and eating less, starting to add one great choice and piece of wisdom at a time. I put my “just 10” bracelet on, which was from the Dr. Oz show. A free bracelet to wear to remind me to shoot to lose 10 pounds at a time, as he did a show explaining the incredible health benefits to your body each time you take off just 10 pounds. I started to work hard, but also had my “old thinking” in my head saying…”when the kids go back to school, then I can really get back on a schedule and workout, etc.”

That thinking has happened every year of my life….here’s the ongoing cycle of my weight loss life….In the summer, I say, “It’s summer, I’ll start as soon as the kids go back to school.” Kids go back, I start on a routine, work out a bit, start to do all the right things with food, usually starting out pretty extreme. Then the holidays come, it starts to fall apart around Thanksgiving, then it is over by Christmas, as I say, “I’ll begin after the holidays.” Then January comes, I go all out great for a month or 2, lose some weight, but February gets really cold, and the excuses start, and comfort food wins during the cold months.Then I say, “as soon as the weather gets a bit warmer, I can get going again and walk and try to run at the track one day.” I play the thought of doing it over and over in my head. Before I know it, I can smell the fresh spring air, see a few buds on the trees, hear the birds chirping in the morning, and start to think, “I have to really get going before the kids are out of school and it’s summer again, and I won’t want to put on shorts or even think about a bathing suit.” I count the weeks, divide it out to work out how to lose the most amount of weight, and again choose something extreme that I can’t possibly live with long term…so I fail again, and head into summer disgusted with myself, picking out the few outfits that I can “hide” in throughout the summer. I then hope that I am not put in many situations where I have to make the excuse why I’m not going swimming, etc….and I see others swimming, having so much fun outside in their cute clothes, cute sundresses, and wish for the day that I could experience what that is like.

BUT….this past fall, the major catalyst to my weight loss happened when I joined Dr. Oz’s Transformation Nation Challenge, took on the challenge using all the knowledge and inspiration Ben and Olivia shared with me, along with all that Elyse, the Weight Watchers team and members taught me…I added eating right for my blood type, I began to really exercise at least an hour a day…started out just walking, added an exercise tape, then in January, when the excuses normally kicked in for being, “too cold outside or snowing or raining”, got the courage to try a gym.

Again, through amazing “God incidences”, my next door neighbor, whom I never really knew that well, became my every day work out partner (who happened to be a ww leader herself), and with a coupon in her hand, to try a local gym for one week free….we walked in together one day at a time, trying one new class at a time, placing down one fear at a time. By the middle of the week, we both signed up for a 3 month special package (which would “just happen” to end when the Transformation Nation Challenge ended, April 9, 2012).

For some reason, very early on in this journey, it was placed on my heart that I should write this all down and keep a journal. I never dreamed at that point that it would become a blog, and certainly never imagined that people would follow it and be inspired, at least not until I got to my goal weight.

I launched the blog the second week in January, and I remember walking into the gym on a Tuesday, as Meg and I were trying our first zumba class. We stopped to check in at the desk, the owner of the gym, Steve, was working on the computer. I had already told him that I was in the Dr. Oz challenge, and that was why I was joining the gym, but that morning I told him that I had just launched my first blog the night before, and was going to start sharing this journey with the world. By the time I got out of zumba class, he had not only looked it up and read it, but tagged it on the gym’s facebook page. I came out of class, and he told me that he tagged my blog, I could see it from afar, and I was just stunned. As I wrote in a much earlier blog…the owner of a gym just tagged the blog of an overweight woman, put It on the gym’s facebook page, and believed the very first week of meeting me, that I could win this entire challenge. I remember going right home to have my husband bring it up on our computer to see if it was real, and just crying, standing behind him at the computer, that this owner of the gym believed in me right away to do that. It still leaves me stunned.

That first night of launching the blog, I will never forget going to bed, absolutely blown away by all of the people reading it.. and then writing me the most beautiful emails ever! I am still amazed and so blessed to this day when people read about my journey and email me. It’s absolutely the most awesome experience.

Since that first week, Steve, owner of Power Ten Fitness in Port Washington, on Long Island, NY, has believed in me, inspired me…I added him to my list of people whom I would email after every weigh in each week, and he has written me back the most encouraging emails every single time, lose or gain. When I entered tough times with my parents’ health, after 2 days of not being in the gym, he sent an email to reach out to me, and make sure I didn’t lose focus on me. He believed in me 70 pounds ago, and continues to be one of the most instrumental people in this journey for me.

His trainers and instructors also believed in me from day one. Every single class we tried, the instructors modified any and every move that needed to be modified for Meg and I until we could work up to what needed to be done. In the beginning, there was a lot of modification, but we hung in there, and day by day saw some growth, (along with lots of pain at times, using muscles that haven’t been used in a long time). Now, just 6 months later, we have seen our bodies accomplish amazing things, from cardio sculpt class, to zumba, to circuit training, spinning, and weight training. Each time I reach one goal, I write down another. It’s very empowering to see your body change, your strength increase, and your abilities grow beyond your own expectations.

As the challenge went on, and the weight loss continued, I believed more and more that I could win the entire challenge, just seeing all of the incredible God incidences that were happening. That kept me going strong. On March 7th, just a month before the final weigh in, I was given a ticket to go to the Dr. Oz show with a group of girls, most of whom I had never met. The girls who invited me, I met in the gym, and through the most amazing circumstances, I walked through one of the most incredible days of my life.

It was that amazing day that I went to the show with the crazy “Check me out Dr. Oz” shirt (designed by the artist, Everardo Gonzalez), I sat in the second row off of the floor, I shared some of my story that day with some of the producers and publicists who were some of the kindest, most encouraging people I had ever met, I ended up shaking Dr. Oz’s hand, looking him in the eye and telling him that I was in his million dollar challenge and believed that I would be standing next to him on that day when they announced the million dollar winner, (and yes, part of that came true!). That whole day and experience was crazy, and I’m so glad that I wrote it all down to remember. Every single person I met there that day, including Dr. Oz, made me feel like a million dollars. I remember telling Tim and Angela and Sarah, some of the publicists and producers on that show, that this journey that I was walking through was something bigger than I could ever imagine, and I continue to believe that.

In fact, as I have been writing this letter all day, about a half hour ago, I switched over to my email, as a note popped up from a very close friend, and in her email was this sentence…

“you have been incredibly strong, and have set an example for everyone through your faithfulness and grace.  I believe God is “growing” you for something bigger than can ever imagine.”

Walking through all of this has been bigger than I ever imagined already. After the Dr. Oz show, I continued to work hard up until the final weigh in, April 9th. I remember pulling out a crazy number that last week, and saying, only God could have pulled out a number like that. Then on April 10th, the email came through that out of 1.2 million people, I made the top 200 people! That was the greatest email. I can’t even tell you how many times I looked at it. On April 11th, I had a phone interview with the nicest woman from the Dr. Oz show, who asked me questions and listened to my amazing journey for one hour and 45 minutes. It was exhilarating! Again, I got off the phone and knew that the Lord gave me the words.

The next few weeks were filled with fax’s and emails going back and forth, all kinds of doctor’s appointments being made, to get final numbers and information, (I will never forget my doctor and the phlebotomist being so proud of me and explaining that my heart rate and blood pressure were the numbers of an athlete!) I drove to meet another person working with the show, over at a hotel by the airport and went through a complete psychological evaluation for a few hours. Each step was a step towards making it to the final 10.

Then came the hardest weekend of this challenge, May 4th an email came that said that I didn’t make it to the final 10. I remember being stunned, crying, shocked…it rocked my world and my faith for a few hours that day, and the day that I watched as the final 10 were announced. I remember putting on my sneakers and walking down to the town dock, overlooking the water and just pleading with God to let me know why, to try to understand. Again, I’m so glad that I wrote all about that, so that I wouldn’t forget all that I learned through that time…

Then, when everything occurred over the next 10 days, where I then walked through the most incredible finale ever….again, one that only God himself could have orchestrated, which continues to leave me with chills and take my breath away every time I am able to share the story…I continue to end with the mightiest two words…”ONLY GOD”. (if you haven’t read that amazing story, go to wendyweighsin.com and read about the finale day).

And that is what I continue to say about this entire weight loss journey, Only God could be orchestrating all of this, and I am soooo excited to see where it leads. Each prayer that I pray, He continues to fulfill His promise that He will do abundantly more than all we can ever ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. (Ephesians 3:20).

I continue to dream big dreams and pray big prayers, expecting great things from a GREAT God!…abundantly MORE than I can ask or imagine….

I dream of filming my final weigh in, at my gym, and having it put on the Dr. Oz show, maybe even having their people come and film it there.

I dream of launching my book about this journey before, during or after the next Transformation Nation Challenge, calling it…”Wendy Weighs In…One Woman’s Journey on Dr. Oz’s Transformation Nation Challenge”. I dream of sharing all that I have learned and finding a way to pass it onto others, so that they can win their battle with weight. Maybe with the 55 more pounds that I have to lose, I will join the Transformation Nation Challenge again, if they do it, and completely finish what I started.

I dream of inspiring others in an amazing way.

I dream of being able to, face to face, let Tim, Angela, Sarah, Nicole, Dr. Oz, all the people who were part of creating the Transformation Nation Challenge, know how they truly transformed my life. To let everyone who brought us through the day of the finale, truly know…that they made us, me, feel like the most special person in the world, just by encouraging me, and most importantly, remembering me, just from the one time they met me in March. I know that they all do hundreds of shows, and have so much on their plates, but I want them to know how each of them impacted just one woman’s life by just by their encouraging and caring words.

-I dream of thanking the corporate Weight Watchers people, also meeting them face to face.(I still can’t believe that Liz, Jennifer Hudson’s leader, knew who I was when I met her.) I have met some of them through email and talked on the phone to many Weight Watchers executives, who encouraged me along the way and shared my story, and I just want to be able to tell them how much that also meant to me.

During the challenge, when I truly believed that I was going to win the Million dollars and the whole contest…I told my ww leader, Elyse, along with the members in my ww group…Steve the owner of my gym, and Meg, my workout buddy… That my ultimate dream would have been to set up my ww meeting on the Dr. Oz stage for the finale, and have Elyse, Steve, Meg and my family standing by my side when they announced me as the winner, with all of the people who supported me and encouraged and prayed for  me in this journey filling the audience.  I prayed for the possibility of all of that….so I’m excited to see God’s plan to continue to unfold….as this journey is far from over!

So I write this next journal entry and end it with this letter, as I am filled with so much gratitude, along with great expectation, filled with hope and faith in what is yet unseen and unfolded in this journey.

So….

Dear,
-Transformation Nation Team…., especially, Dr. Oz, Tim, Nicole, Angela, Sarah, Maria…
-Weight Watchers Team….especially Elyse, Jen, Barry, Liz, Lisa, Kristi, and everyone in my Saturday morning group…
-Power Ten Fitness Team..Steve, Holly, Nancy, Suzanne, Dave, Mina, Eliza, John, Rob, all my “co-members”, and my “every day workout partner” and friend, Meg…
-Everyone who has followed my blog and encouraged me…
-Olivia and Ben Ward…
-All of my friends and family…especially my incredible husband, Warren, and my children…
-Pr. Charley…our pastor who continues to love and support and minister to 3 generations of our family…
-My church family and friends who have prayed for me and with me, through everything…

Thank you, all…each and every one of you, for being such an amazing part of one woman’s journey of incredible transformation…inside and outside. I am not at my goal weight, YET, but on this… my 48th birthday… which I will celebrate this Wednesday, July 18th,  I want to thank you for the gift of losing 70 pounds. I could never have accomplished, and experienced all of this without you.

Lysa Terkeurst wrote in her Made to Crave book, “What if this battle with food isn’t the curse we’ve always thought it to be? What if it’s actually the very thing, if brought under control, that can lead us to a better understanding of God? What if we could actually get to the place where we thanked God for letting us face this battle, because of the treasures that we discovered on the battle field?”

I never thought I would understand this idea. In fact, when I read it, I thought she was out of her mind….., but not only do I get it now, I have actually thanked God for this battle, because I NEVER would have experienced the unbelievable treasures and gifts that were unveiled in the midst of it all… the breathtaking moments, people, emails, notes, prayers, experiences….walking through this journey and having my life touched by each of you.

Never underestimate the way the Lord uses you in the lives of other people….Every one of you were used in a significant and mighty way in my life in this journey, even those of you who just met me once or twice on the Dr. Oz team, or touched my life through a phone call or email, or an interview.  From television producers, publicists and workers from the Dr. Oz show to Weight Watcher CEO’s, to psychological evaluators… from members of my church to members of my WW meeting, from the owner of the gym  and all of my instructors,to the leader of my ww meeting and the three encouragers who weigh me in every week,  from the winner of the Biggest loser, to the worship director and the prayer team at our church, from all of the doctors, nurses, therapists who helped me through my dad’s stroke and mom’s diabetes during this time, to our family Pastor who continues to take care of and minister to 3 generations of my family…from my oldest and closest of friends, to the newest friends…to even strangers who have become friends throughout this journey….I have been soooo incredibly blessed by each and every one of you!

So during this birthday week, and especially on my birthday, I will be blowing out my candles, thanking God for each of you and the way you have been used in my life. I will continue to “tear up” and be left with chills each time I am blessed to share the stories that have happened to me with others, and I will continue to share the dreams and prayers I have as I continue fighting hard to lose the rest of this weight, working hard one day at a time, making one good choice at a time…heading to the road to victory.

I’m looking forward to the day I reach my goal weight, and continue to pray to be able to get to the place of being an “overcomer”. I read once, that an overcomer is someone who finds absolute victory in an area where they once knew nothing but defeat. I’ve been defeated by the battle with weight for most of my life, and with each great choice, adding the wisdom and knowledge that I have been given through these past 9 months, along with being blessed with the encouragement and support from all of you….I’m looking forward to one day calling myself an “overcomer” in this area of my life, along with being excited to inspire and pass on all that I have learned to others who feel defeated by their weight.

Thanks for being a special part in this journey. As I have written and said many times before…I’ve already been left in awe, in tears, in shock..and breathless walking through all of this…And, I honestly feel that it’s only the beginning of something much bigger than I can ever imagine…So hold on with me… and continue to dream big dreams and pray huge prayers for me and for yourself!  ,…to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ever ask or imagine! He’s going to knock our socks off…So blessed to be in it with you!

Many many thanks…and much love
From the very blessed birthday girl…
Wendy Trunz