June 30, 2012- A few “Surreal” Moments this week….

This week I was asked to be a writer on the sharecare.com website…..
Went spinning with my daughter, Grace…and finally broke through to an amazing number with a weight loss!

This past week I joined the Sharecare.com website as one of their writers. I received a phone call, followed by some emails asking me if I would consider being a writer for the website in order to keep the Dr. Oz Transformation Nation movement going, helping to inspire others by sharing what has worked for all of us. I was really excited when I was offered the opportunity, and what was even more amazing, was that as the woman spoke to me, there was a point where she said, “we are looking for the top 20 finalists to share their experiences and expertise..” I stopped her after a few more sentences and said, “can I ask you a question? Was in in the final 20?” …and she proceeded to say, “yes”, and told me that my name was in front of her on a spread sheet with all of my information. That was an amazing moment, because, after being narrowed down from 1.2 million people to making the top 200 finalists, after that, as we all went through the process, doing the psychological evaluations, sending in more and more information, having phone interviews….no one would ever tell us how far we had made it. So even after the finale, we were never told how far we made it. So it is really pretty spectacular to know, now, for sure, that I was in the top 20…Wow!

The first time I sat down and went to sharecare.com I couldn’t believe my eyes! Up came MY PICTURE and a profile and a recipe that I had written and sent them. I AM ON THE SHARECARE WEBSITE!!!….as a writer!!!! I went into the website a few times, just to bring it up and look at it! Then, I was give a special log in code to use in order to answer questions on the website. I took the opportunity to write to Michael Lamb, the winner of challenge, and tell him how special it was to sit next to is wife at the finale. In the meantime, I have also gone up and answered questions on the website. You will have to check it out and “friend me” so that I have a following. They want us to have as many friends as we can go on it and check it out.

(Go to http://www.sharecare.com Then you will see “Look who’s losing?”, under that is says They did it, you can too. Click on that. Then click the blue arrow until you see my picture. Pretty crazy, huh?) or copy and paste this…
http://www.sharecare.com/static/success-stories-center

The next “surreal moment” of the past week….My daughter, Grace, came to my spin class. She was really excited to try it, and I was so excited to have her come to the gym with me. We walked into the gym, and everyone was so happy to meet her. We went into the room, set up our bikes, and when my instructor came in, she was so excited to have her join us. Since it was her first time, I was telling Grace in the car how in my very first class, I was only able to just move my legs and keep pedaling along with the instructor, trying to keep up the pace with her. I remember 10 minutes into it wondering if I would truly be able to pedal for a full hour without stopping. I couldn’t stand or jump or do any of the things the other people in the class were doing. It was one of the most overwhelming first classes I had ever taken at that time, and I cried at the end of it, just happy that I could complete it without stopping or quitting and leaving.

Since then, I have trained for, and conquered, my first race day. I have even taken other spin classes with other instructors, and I can keep up with everyone and do everything the instructor tells us to do. And on this incredible morning, I was spinning side by side with my beautiful daughter, proud to be able to show her all that I have accomplished. She had amazing stamina, and did everything with us. At one point I was telling her that she could always sit if she got tired….and the instructor came over to me, and nicely told me to, “zip my lips”, and she said, “I’ve got her, I will take care of her. You continue to do all that you have learned…I’ve got her, trust me.” I just smiled and followed her instructions. A few times I looked at our reflections in the mirror, and just thanked God for this amazing moment in my life, where I was able to keep up with my 15 year old daughter in a spin class. I know if she continues to go with me for the summer, she will probably surpass my ability, but today I felt pretty amazing to be spinning side by side with her, knowing how far I had come since my first day.

This past week, I also vowed that it was going to be the week to bust through this weight loss wall that I hit for 3 weeks. I had been thinking these past few hard weeks I have had, about the time Olivia Ward hit her wall on The Biggest Loser. Her husband, Ben, inspired her during a video chat, and Jillian was telling her to keep doing everything right, and promised her that the weight would come off. Well, the other night, I checked in on Olivia’s blog http://www.myfitspiration.com ….and what an amazing “God incidence”, she chose to write about that very week.  I read it, and it was exactly what I need to hear. The words that really stuck out were the words Jillian said to her when she hit that wall and didn’t believe she could break through it…she said,

“You are doing everything right…you are eating on point & putting in the work in the gym. Trust your body…it’s science and it will let the weight go. Let me believe in you while you’re not strong enough to do it alone. When you are strong enough to believe in yourself again I’ll give it back to you.”

After reading her website, I wrote this to her…

Hey Olivia,
     For me, it’s one of those amazing “God incidences” that you wrote this at this time. I have been thinking about you and your story you shared regarding this week on the ranch, even thinking about that exact episode… even before you wrote it here, because as I have been taking care of my parents this past month (as my dad had a stroke Memorial Day weekend, and my mom is having trouble with her breathing and diabetes)…as I am going from the hospital to doctor appts with my mom, I haven’t been able to lose any weight and break through a number that I am stuck at the past 3 weeks. Last Sat. I just cried on the scale at WW. I am doing the work outs each day, but haven’t been able to track the food. With all the knowledge, nothing is going into my mouth that is not healthy, but I know I need to get back to prepping the really good food and writing it down. This week, I put the bodybugg back on and I’m trying to be accountable for it all…as you said, science doesn’t lie. I feel like the last 3 weeks have been a set back, but as I hit it hard and do everything right again, the scale has to move. Praying to break through another big number this week. Total weight loss so far…66 pounds! 60 more to go! Thanks for inspiring me tonight! Love, Wendy

When I checked back the next day, she wrote…

Hi Wendy!! Yes, God is good & His timing is perfect! I know you will have an awesome week…you are half way to your goal…how awesome is that??

How amazing is that? I’m praising God, because during these past tough weeks, I’ve had different people step out and believe in me. From my WW leader, to the people who weigh me in on the scale, to my husband, my family, my close friends, my instructors at the gym, and even the owner of the gym and Olivia Ward! (Just as Jillian had done for Olivia, all of these people are believing in me while I am not strong enough to do it alone.)

Then, I set out this week to try something new with WW. The leader had challenged us to mix it up a bit and just try the “simply filling core plan”. I was always afraid to try this, because you don’t weigh and measure. You eat all of the core power foods until you are full, and if you choose to eat a food that is not on that list, you have to count it (you have 49 points for the week). People in our group were saying that they were on it and losing weight consistently, the leader said someone in another group tried it and lost 7 pounds in one week…that is when I decided to take the challenge. I wanted a big number like that. (I know it was a man who did it, but my competitive side came out, and I wanted to beat that number.) So, I set out to try it for the week.

It was very strange for me not to put things on the scale or even write it down. I missed my Ezekiel toast in the morning, so I took it for the extra points for a few days. I also missed my Aloha WW bar, so I counted that for 2 days. But I really was afraid to use too many extra points.

I went to the gym every day, and my children went away on a youth retreat for a few days, so I did some extra exercising for 2 of the days. On Friday, I called my friend who is also in the ww group, and I reminded her that it was Friday, the day before weigh in, so, as our leader always says, “on Friday, my body is a temple”. Each time I called her, I would say, “temple one to temple two, how are you doing? Are you staying on target?” It was a great reminder not to wreck it all before weighing in in the morning.
On Saturday morning, I was excited, yet a bit scared, to see the results. I couldn’t take another let down on the scale. But I knew in my heart that I worked extra hard, and really ate the power foods, but wondered if I had eaten too much…

I stripped off the jewelry and glasses, took a breath and watched the woman’s face weighing me in. She said, “hold still, I need to really get this number”. I thought, oh no, it must only be ounces, then. She took out the calculator and said, “holy cow, this is a really big weight loss”. I said, “then I broke through the next number?”, and she said, “you lost 5.4 pounds!” Then I realized, that means I just hit 70.4 pounds!!!! I hit the 70 mark…wow!!!

I was sooo excited. I couldn’t believe it, but as Jillian told Olivia, the science works. You have to believe in it. I never would have thought that the core program, simply filling could work for me, but it did. That was absolutely amazing to me.

I’m so happy that I was able to take a few hours to sit down and write all of this so that I don’t forget the amazing things still happening on this journey.

Yesterday, after the weigh in, I went out on the island to celebrate an 80th birthday for a wonderful woman in my life. I was going to see people I haven’t seen in years. Some hadn’t seen me for 5, 10, 20, and even 30 years. It was really exciting to see reactions and also be able to share with others all that I have learned. What a gift it is to be excited walking into a party, happy with what you have on and how you look. I haven’t experienced that for over 20 years.The greatest part was inspiring people who just needed to be inspired, and to share some of what has really worked for me.

This morning’s sermon at church was based on the fact that God and one person can do anything!! The pastor challenged us to think big..he asked,” what are your dreams? Step out in faith and see what you can do in God’s will…I continue to pray that this blog and journal will one day be made into a book and it will be a best seller and inspire others to be able to transform their lives as well. We’ll see….I still believe!!

June 22, 2012- Very tough few weeks, 26 days since my dad had his stroke…

This June has been one of the hardest months of my entire life. It’s been 26 days since my dad had his stroke. He went from the hospital to an amazing rehab acute rehab facility where groups of professionals… from speech therapists to occupational therapists to physical therapists, nurses, doctors, psychiatrists….all joined with our family to bring my dad as far as they could during his stay with them.

 
When he arrived there, we were told right away that they would keep him as long as they continued to see him fight to get better, as well as see progress. If he plateaued at all, or didn’t work hard, then they would release him to a sub acute facility, where he would have much less therapy time. It was soooo difficult the first few days to get him moving. He couldn’t stay awake or alert for much time. He would fall asleep as we talked to him, as we tried to feed him. They explained in the beginning that we had to make sure he swallowed everything in his mouth completely, because if it went down the wrong pipe it could cause major problems. I remember feeding him alongside my sister..one of us mushed the food and fed him and tried to talk to him and keep him awake to chew, while the other one kept shaking him and tapping his chest to get him to chew and swallow. We both had tears in our eyes wondering if this was going to get any better, as just getting through dinner took so long, was physically and mentally exhausting. We had to get as much protein and good food in him so that he would have the energy to get through all of the therapies scheduled for the next day. If he couldn’t stay awake and get through them, he would have to leave this amazing facility, and we all wanted to stay, knowing this was the team that could work miracles.

 
Any night that I could get to the computer before collapsing in bed, I would shoot out an email to all of the people praying for us and for my dad. I would update it with any specific prayer requests we needed. As usual, those prayers and the special emails are what have gotten me through this past month.

 
It was a very long first week, and my sister stayed in the hospital with my dad in the beginning to make sure he ate and worked hard and did everything he was suppose to do. Those first few days he was barely able to speak, falling asleep in mid sentence, not able to use his right hand or right leg barely at all, not able to feed himself or hold a glass, not able to walk, not able to move up in the bed by himself. Not able to hold any attention to a conversation. It was a very scary time for all of us, and heartbreaking for my mom. His grandchildren had a hard time seeing him like this, but all kicked in to help in every way.
At the end of the first week, the medical team had their weekly meeting, and when it was over, we heard from a few of them who said that they had never seen someone come as far as my dad did in one week! That was our first big glimpse of hope. He was talking, could eat by himself, could move his right hand, could stand and walk a bit with a walker…it was truly a miracle.

 
On June 15, Warren and I had to go and spend the day and go to each of the therapies with him. We were told the night before that he had “graduated” from speech therapy. He no longer needed it, because he was back to where he was before. We went to occupational therapy, where they had him get in and out of bed with a walker and assisted a bit by one person, along with getting in and out of a shower. Then we went to physical therapy where he walked with his walker up and down the hall a few times, even going in and out of cones, walked along using help with bars, and also went up and down about 8 stairs.

 
As we watched my dad walk down the hall with a therapist and his walker.. Anya, his head therapist, shared with us that they have seen so many people in their jobs come in, and they all agreed that they have never seen someone come along so far in this amount of time as my dad has. As I was walking with her, I thanked her for all that she and her team had done so far… for believing in my dad, and I told her that my church, friends and prayer team had been praying for wisdom, etc, over all of the people working with my dad, along with praying for my dad. As I said this, she actually stopped walking, looked at me in amazement, and then down at her arms, as she pulled up her sleeves and showed me her “goose bumps”…as she said, “oh my gosh, that’s it! That’s the answer to why we are so amazed at his progress!…look, you gave me the chills!” She went on to say that she totally believes in prayer and God, and she just truly knew at that point, as the smile just stayed on her face, why my dad had come so far in such a short amount of time. Praise God!

 
When the other therapist joined us, he also explained the progress, and said that when my dad came to them the first day,  he remembered that when he had to chart what he was able to do..instead of marking down his progress in the amount of steps taken, they could only measure it in inches of actual movement, because he couldn’t even take a full step. Now, less than 2 weeks later, he had just walked him up and down the hallway 4 times, had him walk in between the even bars holding on with one hand for a bit, and climb 8 stairs twice. My dad was exhausted at that point, but it was nice to have him hear us all talking about how far he had come, because he doesn’t remember so much of it.

 
On June 20, my dad had to leave the amazing facility (as insurance only covers it for so many days), and they all said that he had come so far and it was time to move to a sub acute facility. I packed up all of his stuff, thanked everyone for taking such amazing care of him (and also told them that I hoped that although I loved them all…I never wanted to see them again 🙂 ) …I followed the ambulette over to the next facility, which is much closer to our home, and unpacked him there. It was nice to have him closer, but it is a facility within a nursing home, so it is sad for me to leave him there. I know that he just wants to come home. He loves his home, his bed, his family….and he hasn’t been home for 26 days, as of today. And depending on how his therapy progresses, it could be another 20 days or so. That is a really long time to be away from your home.  We are all just continuing to pray that they can get him to a point where he can walk on his own, dress himself, and be able to go to the bathroom on his own, so that he can do all of that at home.

 
It has been so overwhelming, between taking care of dad at the hospital, trying to take care of my mom at home, and be there for my family as well. Lots of tears and breaking down emotionally in my car heading from one place to the other. I always do a lot of praying through the tears in the car, and always blast the radio with our local Christian radio station, K-Love on. This past week, I think I hit my breaking point a few times, and the day I was moving my dad from one rehab facility to the other, after giving my mom insulin and taking her to 2 doctors the day before for her breathing problems, diabetes, and complete body swelling due to being on prednisone for so long, after praying with my daughter as she left for school to take her Biology Regents exam… the song, “Blessings” came on in the car. I sang along and cried through each word, trying to find some sort of blessing or reason for all that was going on….

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights 
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

 
I’m constantly praying and asking the Lord during this really trying time to show me the mercies, to give me a glimpse that He cares and is with me and knows what I’m going through. It’s the beginning of summer, the kids are out of school, we should be planning our fun times and possible vacation plans….and all of that is pushed aside right now with no real time to even discuss it.
Two Saturdays ago, to top it all off, I went to WW and gained 1.8 pounds. I just cried right there. It wasn’t that I did anything terrible, I just couldn’t get to the gym each day, and being at the hospital or running my mom to doctor’s appointments, I couldn’t even grocery shop, cook and prepare the food I could have, or plan any of my meals. I was on the go, trying to grab decent choices, and along with all of the tough times, anxiety and tears throughout the week, a gain on the scale topped it off!

 
Late Sunday night, I checked my email and was taken back, again, by the amazing man who is the owner of the gym I belong to. He not only owns the gym, but also is the head of Port Rowing, which is a huge crew team, and does so much for charities and our town, etc….In and amongst all that he has to do, this is the email he sent me late Sunday night, as he noticed I hadn’t been to the gym Thursday or Friday…
“Heard about your dad, I am sorry, but if he is as tough as you, he will fight. I just returned from FL where my dad had open heart. Reminders we are all human and that we need to keep working hard to enjoy and have as many days as possible with our loved ones. I know things are hard, but do not quit on yourself, have not seen you lately, find time for a walk outside, you’ve worked so hard and changed so many other’s lives keep on your goal as you continue to help others. One thing I have learned about you is you are tough enough to do it. Remember as my mom always told me…” God does not give us more then we can handle”  -Steve

As I read this email again, I am still so touched that he took time in his crazy schedule to write to me after noticing that I hadn’t been to the gym, and care enough about me, to be honest enough to push me to get back on target and remind me of what I have accomplished.

I wish every single person could find a gym as special as the one I belong to.  6 months ago, I sat in my car in the parking lot, afraid to walk through those “scary doors”…feeling that gyms were only for the perfect people who were physically fit and active already. Feeling that I would never fit in or feel comfortable walking in a place like that even a few days a week. I remember one of the trainers telling Meg and I to just use every piece of equipment whenever we wanted, reminding us, “this is YOUR gym”.

Power Ten Fitness is my gym, and I am so blessed to be a member there. There are so many special people, some I don’t even know their names, but I look forward to seeing them, saying hi, sharing a smile or a wave..others have shared some life stories and struggles, some have become friends, and the instructors, trainers, and especially, Steve, the owner, makes it feel like another family….they even miss you when they don’t see you for a while!…and reach out. Never in a million years did I expect to find this in a gym.

On the Monday following that weigh in I got back into the gym. I checked in and had to just walk over to Steve and hug him and thank him for sending the email. He was training someone, but I just had to quickly thank him so much. He will never fully know the impact he has had on my life, he is an incredible person who transforms the lives of so many people, adults, teens and children.

Monday night, I thought I would have time to journal, but I got called to help my mom, so all that was written was…

“June 11, 2012- Very rough week, had a gain in WW…time to refocus and get back on track…I’ve come too far to let myself fall…”

That week, I got back into the gym every day. I didn’t have time to do all the cooking and prep with food, but the following Saturday, I lost what I had gained and was back to my 66 pound loss. It has been so difficult to stay on target with the food and cooking, etc. With all of the hospital/doctor visits. I haven’t had time to write things down, but what I am making sure is that everything going into my body is a healthy choice. I may not be able to figure out all the points, but thanks to all that I have learned I have an idea of where I am. Knowledge is definitely power in this case. Tomorrow is Saturday already, a little frightened of the scale, but we’ll see. I did work out all 5 days this week, and ate as healthy as I could. Just couldn’t weigh and measure on a scale and didn’t write it down. I know that doesn’t work as well, but just trying to hang in there at this point. My husband is doing all that he can to help me. It’s such a difficult time for both of us.

 
(it’s almost 11pm…have to head to bed and write tomorrow)
(Saturday)…Woke up early, excited to see everyone at WW, but not too excited to get on the scale. It’s amazing that you truly know in your heart how you have done throughout your week as you step on the scale. Just as I have barely been holding on this past week, I just prayed to either stay the same or have some miracle that I could have lost some weight. I am on the edge of going into a new number, have been hanging on that edge for 3 weeks now. It is a tough one to bust through, but I will do it eventually (‘there is no plan B”)…I got there early to step on the scale, as I stepped up, they all asked how my dad and mom were, and the tears welled up a bit, then I heard the woman say…”ok, you’re up .6.”  I just stood there and had a good cry, let out the frustration of the week. Knew that I worked hard to make it to the gym every day, but didn’t count points…and as Elyse always says…”only track the weeks you want to lose weight.” And although I put healthy things in my mouth all week, I did not track the food, or count my waters, or count my dairy. I just couldn’t find the time.

 
And although these wonderful women listened as they filled out my paperwork, they encouraged me to get back to doing it all, pointing out that life will always get in the way one way or another, things aren’t always going to get easier, they may actually get harder, and I had to use everything I have learned to make this weight loss happen.

 
So, I got to the grocery store, my husband is helping me prep all the food on the grill, so that I have safe things to grab. I am going to try the “simply filling core plan” for a few of the days and see if that makes a difference. I looked up all the power foods and learned more about the program, and I am working hard to make this a week of victory.

 
Yes, there have been a lot of teardrops these past few tough weeks, sleepless nights and many trials, but I am trying to constantly find the mercies which I know are there…some are still disguised, but others are helping me find some joy in the pain and the journey. Emails, phone calls, cards from people in our lives who have reached out at just the right moment to bless me… to bless us.

 
We’re taking one day at a time, sometimes one moment at a time. Praying through it all and asking the Lord to give me strength, courage, wisdom, comfort, joy and peace. Holding onto faith and His promises. Praising Him for the people He has placed in my life, who are helping to hold me up through it all. God is good, and when He’s not…..He’s GREAT! This is what I have to hold onto.

June 1, 2012- Sorry I haven’t written in a while.. My Dad had a stroke just 4 days after the finale aired…very long week…still working our way through it all…

I have been busting to write about so many things, but our lives have been put on hold, as just 4 days after watching the Dr. Oz Transformation Nation Finale my dad was rushed to the hospital for what seemed like a heart attack, but ended up actually being a “mini stroke”. Not sure why they would consider any stroke “mini”, as the residual effects are so tough accept and pull through…nothing seems “mini” about it. But before I get to this whole new difficult situation we are all working together on, let me back up a bit in time….

I have so much to write about since the finale. I was so happy that I came home after it was taped and wrote about all that had happened, as I couldn’t believe how much the producers had to cut out of the show. We were all so excited to watch. Friends and family came over, we had a fruit platter, some snacks, coffee, etc. And we all enjoyed watching it together. It was exciting to relive a bit of it again, but I was even more excited to run to the computer and send out the whole back story so that you could experience all that I experienced that day. I have been so blessed to have been able to tell it over and over again to friends, family, strangers…I still can’t get through it without crying when I get to the part of realizing that I was sitting next to the woman who needed her husband’s kidney. To be able to hug her when her husband was announced the winner was the greatest gift ever! I’m just so sorry that America didn’t get to hear her and her husband speak at the end of the show. It was breathtaking.

What an amazing place to be…where I can honestly continue to tell others that I wouldn’t change a thing. They were meant to win, and I got to celebrate with them and experience the most amazing day. Still praising God for it all! Every single moment he orchestrated that day still amazes me. In fact, 2 days ago, my shirt arrived in the mail signed by Dr. Oz. I will save it and hold it up the day I reach my final goal!

The days following the finale, I was inspired to clean out my closet and try to part with some of my old clothes. I never realized how difficult this would be to do. The pants, shorts, skirts, were all easy to part with, because they truly are way too big. But shirts, sweatshirts, sweaters, cover ups, sweatpants are not as easy, because I keep thinking they fit, they are just a little “oversized”, and feel kind of cozy.

I bought one bin to put in the attic, and told myself that was all I could keep. Of course, I am praying that I will never have to go in and take out the clothes, but there were some expensive and favorite pieces I held onto. This process took about 5 days. I folded and stacked everything on my bed in the end, made signs of all the sizes and took a picture of all that I was getting rid of. There were 129 pieces of clothing! Some came from the attic…clothes that I had saved from the 80’s and 90’s, hoping to get in them again…. and I did as I lost the weight, but…oh my goodness, the jeans were so high waisted, and if you could see the HUGE shoulder pads…yes, I was Krystal Carrington from “Dynasty”. It was nice to put on clothes I hadn’t fit in in years, but also a great laugh at the styles.
I had piles of “maybe” I should keep, and when good friends were over, I would ask their opinions…. and they begged me to let it all go. They kept saying the clothes were way to big, but it’s funny, you just don’t believe it. Even now, when I go shopping, I start bringing clothes into the dressing room that are at least 2 to 3 sizes too big. It just doesn’t compute yet. I piled all the clothes up in my hallway upstairs to take pictures of all that was leaving. I had some friends take what they wanted, and then a woman from the gym said that she works at the “INN”, where they feed the poor and homeless, and told me that they could really use the clothes. I was so happy that she was taking them there. It was the last great “push” for me to let them go, before starting to rethink and take things back out of the bags. 129 pieces of clothing…sizes up to 3x…. gone.

Last weekend was amazing though, as a friend and I took our kids to Pa. for the weekend to see a show, on the way back, we did a little shopping. I was in the dressing room with my daughter and her best friend, and we were all trying on clothes. They were helping me pick out clothes. I needed some “whites” for tennis, because all of my tennis clothes are way too big. I was invited to play tennis last week, (thank goodness it got rained out, because I didn’t have anything that fit.) I actually ended up finding clothes at “Under Armour”… and I even bought jeans and some shirts at Target, right off the rack in the same area my daughter was shopping in. She was soooo excited for me. It was another “moment”. Shopping together with my daughter, both in the dressing rooms running back and forth helping each other decide what looked good, what fit, etc. I am still smiling just thinking about it.

On our way home from Pennsylvania, we were somewhere on the Jersey Turnpike and my husband called to see how far out I was. He was working and had one of the most overwhelming days at work, when my mom called and was in a panic, because my dad’s legs would not work, he couldn’t stand up. He only wanted me or my husband to come, didn’t want to call the doctor or ambulance. I called my son and nephew, told them to run next door, call the doctor, get our neighbor next door who was a fire chief, and get everything moving until I could get home. It seemed like the longest ride, back and forth on the phone, feeling helpless in the car. By the time I was at the last bridge, the news was that they thought he was having a heart attack. Lots of praying went on in the car, as Lorraine drove as fast as she could while I kept in contact on the phone. We pulled up at the exact moment that they were loading him in the ambulance. He didn’t look good at all, my nephew was crying, my husband looked very concerned, lots of emergency people all around, even a huge fire truck responded, so it was a crazy scene…all of our amazing neighbors outside seeing if we needed anything. I squeezed my dad’s leg for him to open his eyes to see that I was there, the oxygen mask was over most of his face. He saw me and tried to smile, I told him I would meet him at the hospital.

They pulled away, my pastor and his wife helped us handle absolutely everything, and then his drove me up to the hospital, and my husband met me there. It was really tough, because I had the worst scenario going through my head. One of my best friends, years ago, got to the hospital a little while after her dad was taken by ambulance for his heart, and by the time she got there, they stopped working on him, and they pronounced him dead. It is the most awful scene that she has gone through, and that was the scene playing through my head at this point. Again, all I could do was pray…

We stayed in the ER while they got him hooked up and stable. People came to check his heart, his pacemaker, his vitals, etc. The more they checked, the more they ruled out, which was great. Dad was pretty out of it, though, sleeping on and off a bit, and speech seem groggy and slurred. While we waited, I really kept looking at everyone in that ER, on Memorial Day Weekend, where the hospital was clearly understaffed for the amount of people there, and just thanked God that the Dr. Oz challenge was the amazing catalyst for me to start working toward getting fit and healthy. I realized sitting there, looking at people on oxygen machines, etc. That I am constantly only a few bad choices away from heading back down that path. When I answered tons of questions about my dad’s medications, and listened to other caretakers going through the same things…trying to figure out what could have caused something to go wrong..I was also so thankful that I wasn’t on any medications. I’m sure, with all that runs in my family…diabetes, heart disease…I was headed down the same path. All I could think about sitting there and watching the machines showing everyones vital numbers…was that at the last doctors appt. Before the finale, my doctor was proud of me, astounded by my numbers, and I continually hold on to her telling me, “you have the heart and blood pressure of an athlete.”  I want to keep living up to that.

We finally got a room, and when my dad was all set, I went home to sleep. His doctor called us early that morning, and said that he felt that he had had a “mini stroke”. “His right hand was very weak, his right leg was weaker than the left and he still wasn’t able to walk yet.” My husband, daughter and I went over to see him on the way to a family bbq, as it was now Memorial Day. I guess when I heard “mini stroke”, it didn’t sound as bad as it was actually going to be when we got there. His mouth barely moved as he mumbled trying to speak. He couldn’t feed himself, he was frustrated as he has messed himself so many times during the night, as the hospital was understaffed and couldn’t get to him in time. He was absolutely humiliated, and so upset and anxious. We got him set, and then I called my brother in tears in the car. Before I could get a few sentences out, he told me he would call me right back after getting a plane ticket out that night.

I cried all the way to Warren’s sister’s house. I never dreamed it would be so bad. He was a real stroke victim, and I didn’t know how much better it was going to get. My brother called back and said he would be in from California by 11pm that night. I was so relieved he was coming. We spent some time with my husband’s family, had a few good cries there, then we went home to let my mom know that things weren’t looking so great, and my brother was coming. She was happy to hear that he was coming.

The next few days, Monday through Friday, he stayed at the hospital from morning until night, helping my dad eat, go to the bathroom, etc. The hospital was really awful with care for my dad. He was left in a mess over and over again when we weren’t there. My brother told me to keep doing all that I had to do, including going to the gym in the am while he was there. No better incentive to go to the gym than to spend a day in the hospital and see where you could end up.

Thursday…. a VERY long day. By Wed. We all agreed that he needed to get to a rehab facility, as he was getting worse and not better. A local one accepted him which was an acute facility, which means more intensive physical therapy, 3-4 hours a day. It was explained that it was a great thing that he was accepted, as they only accept those patients they feel can come back strong with what they offer. There were 2 other choices, but they offered a lot less. After many “God-incidences” pointing us toward taking this as our next plan, my dad was ambulanced over to the rehab facility. My brother followed and got him all set there while I did all the phone calls and paperwork.

Meanwhile, we had an appt. with my daughter for a neck sonogram, as they felt something in her neck at school when they did her school physical exam to play sports. We had blood work done the other day, and now we were going for the sonogram. Meanwhile the doctor called my husband to let us know that the results for the blood work came back and she has “Hashimoto’s Disease”. It is an auto immune disease dealing with the thyroid. It is genetic. My mother in law and brother in law both have it. They keep using words like “benign” and “easy to deal with” with medication, but again, you are telling a mom and a dad that their daughter is “just going to take a pill the rest of her life, and she should be fine.”

So I’m in a room watching a sonogram monitor take pictures of my daughter’s neck, while my dad is being taken to a place that we are hoping and praying will bring him back to his old self, being able to come home being strong and independent once again,  while trying to keep an eye on my mom who is going through so much watching her husband get worse instead of better each day….I’m trying to keep her blood sugar on target through 4 shots a day, preparing the right foods for her to eat, trying to stay on target with my eating and exercising…trying to keep it all together for my family and my children….This season of life, where you are taking care of your children on one side and your parents on the other…is quite overwhelming, and there isn’t a class or seminar to teach you how to do it.

Needless to say, Thursday was very overwhelming. We came home from the sonogram, ordered the medication, looked online for information to help, got some wonderful emails from friends, including a dear friend who was diagnosed with the same thing when she was 28. Again, the Lord is sending us wonderful information through friends and family.  My brother brought my mom to the rehab facility to get my dad all set. They came home excited that the staff and place seems to be top notch, but a little upset, because my dad was so tired and out of it, and confused when they left.

I went to bed, grabbed my devotional book, which has devotions for each day of the year, and I prayed that the one for today would encourage me, and give me some sort of peace going to bed. It has been one of those amazing devotionals, that has had the perfect words at the exact perfect time, over and over and over again…and the one for this night was perfect, again.  It reminded me of God’s healing power, it was entitled, ready for this….”who heals all your diseases” (psalm 103:3) I asked before opening the book, for the Lord to just help me believe that He could heal my dad and that He could get better enough to come home, and maybe even be better than before, and also, that even though all the literature and doctors say that Hashimoto’s disease is something you have for life, maybe Grace could be healed of it. Then I opened the devotional, hoping the words would help me….and He blew me away again!

Here are just some of the words…”What a comfort to know that we have a great Physician who is both able and willing to heal us! Let us think of Him for a moment tonight. His cures are radical, He strikes at the center of the disease, and so His cures are sure and certain. He never fails, and the disease never returns. There is no relapse where Christ heals, no fear that His patients should be merely patched up for a season. He is well skilled at all diseases. He never yet met an unusual case that was difficult for Him…We trust Him and sin dies, we love Him and grace lives, we wait for Him, and grace is strengthened, we see Him as he is, and grace is perfected forever. “

This is just some of what I read and then had Warren read.., which lead Warren and Grace and I to end the night praying for a full recovery for my Dad, a full healing for Grace…the world says that she will have it forever, but if the Lord chooses to heal her, He will….and we fully believe that He is able! So we head to bed, clinging to His promises once again….choosing to walk by faith…a confident expectation in what He can do.

As someone once said so powerfully….I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds my future…and that is what I can rest in. It is not easy, but we are not alone.

So, as hard as it is, I continue to ask the Lord to give me strength and the time to do all that I have to do, including eating right and exercising. I even get up, asking Him to prioritize my day. He’s the author and perfecter of time, and when I ask Him to help me prioritize the day and give me extra time, He manages to do it every time.  Months ago I would have given up on me and would have just run myself ragged taking care of everyone else, saying I’ll do me later…but I have come too far to give up or mess it all up now. These are the tough times that I have to hold onto all that I have learned, every scripture, every mantra, every saying, every anchor, every bit of knowledge…all the wisdom and put it into practice….”after me, you come first. I am only 1 meal away from getting back on target. Every good choice will lead me down the road to victory and not compromise. Nothing tastes as good as fit feels. Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial…make the best choice, etc. Etc.”  And of course, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Tomorrow, I am going to a black tie wedding for my nephew. I will be seeing so many people whom I haven’t seen in months/years. This past week, I bought a beautiful gown in a size I haven’t worn for 25 years. I stopped at my friends house to show her, as it is the first time I won’t have that safe “third layer” I always where by having a jacket or blazer on the outside of an outfit. It feels very strange. I wasn’t sure if I was ready, so I went into her back room and put it on and came out….She was absolutely stunned! She couldn’t even talk at first, I wasn’t sure what she was thinking, But then she said I looked so beautiful, she couldn’t even come up with words. She and her daughter were so excited for me. Her reaction is one I will NEVER forget. She called her husband over, and then she made me show her mother in law, who was also soooo stunned and excited. She wanted me to go right home and do the same thing for my family. She wished that she could see their reaction. After her reaction and amazing words, I was excited to show my husband and daughter. I came down, and Grace, my daughter, just lit up and told me how beautiful I was, and then I went down to show my husband who was working out in the basement. I came down, and his face was priceless.

From left to right…
My nephew Jamie, my son Warren, me, my daughter Grace, and my husband Warren.

He used words like, “phenomenal”…He told me days later, I left him in tears, he was so happy for me, and he has said a few times, he just can’t wait to see everyone’s reaction when I walk into the wedding tomorrow. I have an appointment for an “up do”, and I just want it to come out beautiful, so that I can feel beautiful walking in tomorrow. It’s all really exciting.

I still have 62 pounds or so to go, but I am excited to keep going, and moments like these give me the incentive to make the tough choices. I will take pictures to that I can add them to the post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 21, 2012- Only God could have orchestrated the 48 hours I walked through including the taping of the Dr. Oz Transformation Nation Finale–I can HONESTLY say that although I didn’t win the million dollars….I WOULDN’T CHANGE ONE THING!!….This story of the finale with leave you absolutely in awe!!!!

 

I have been absolutely BUSTING to be able to share this story with all of you, and the world! The taping of the finale was on Friday, May 18th, and we all had to sign a confidentiality form until the show airs on Wednesday, May 23rd. Today is Monday, May21st, and it is the first chance I have gotten to be able to sit and write this entire story since being in NYC for the finale… because although it is a bit long, I don’t want to forget one single detail or moment. It has been soooo hard not being able to tell everyone following my story what happened, but for now, each time I am asked who won, etc… all I can answer is….ONLY GOD could have orchestrated this finale in such a way that, although I wasn’t the one who won the million dollars, I can honestly say that when I am able to share all about the 48 hours I walked through in NYC, I wouldn’t change one thing about all that happened!!!

At this point, I have told everyone to set their dvr’s,I’ve told them…you will see me on television, and after you all watch the show, I promise to share a story that will take your breath away, leave you in awe, you possibly cry a bit, and it will all bring you to the same place the Lord has brought me….truly knowing and believing that it was the perfect finale to the Dr. Oz Challenge.

Now THAT is pretty extraordinary being said by a woman who truly believed this entire journey that I would be the one standing next to Dr. Oz on 5/23/12 when he announced the winner of theTransformation Nation Challenge. Don’t forget, a few weeks ago, I got to stand next to him, fulling believing and telling him that I would see him again, and that I would be standing next to him on 5/23/12. (of course, back then, I didn’t know it was going to be taped on 5/18 then shown on 5/23)

Since September, I’ve worked out so hard, changed my life, and kept believing day by day, month by month that I could not only finally win my battle with weight, but truly believed that I could win the entire challenge…I got to the end and went from making it from 1.2 million people, down to 200 finalists, down to the finals, only to be cut right before they announced the final 10. That weekend was one of the hardest weekends of my life, trying to get through the disappointment, trying to understand why I wasn’t chosen, trying to understand what to do next.

I remember coming back into the house, after I had to take that very long walk, having a good long cry after watching the 10 finalists being announced…I sat down at the computer, opened the last email from the Dr. Oz show, which was an invitation to all those people who were in the challenge, who didn’t make the top ten, asking if we would like to be a part of the audience for the finale. If we did, they wanted us to send our information again. As I wrote in earlier on the blog, I wrote it all again, prayed with my husband and hit “send”.

I have to be honest with everyone, I had to really make the decision of whether or not I was going to go. It would have been easy to just decide to watch it from home. After all, it might be too hard for me to be there in the audience and not cry, since I really thought up until the weekend of the announcements, that I should have been there. And I know for sure, if the Lord hadn’t gotten me through that tough weekend, where He really brought me to the faith that the person He wanted to win was in the top 10 , that the money would change their life, they really needed it, etc. I would never have gone…..and I can tell you at this point, that I would have missed some of the most incredible blessings, and a finale for me that I hope that I can even put into words for all of you…. In fact a very close friend of mine said, and I never would have realized this unless she said it….”Wendy, do you realize that if you just stayed bitter and upset about not making it in the finals, and decided not to go and just watched it from home, you would have missed all that you got to experience?” Wow! I just stood there in amazement and thanked God, again, for softening my heart, answering my prayers and giving me such grace to be able to move forward and experience all that He orchestrated for me….

So here it goes…(hang in there… there will be some details, and you will wonder, “why is she going off on this tangent?”, but it will all come together in an amazing way…trust me….

On Thursday morning, I took the train into NYC, as I had a hair appointment at “Scott J Salon” on Columbus Ave. (had to take care of those grays, just in case I was caught on camera in the audience. I had also been praying that I would possibly be able to see the producers and publicists who were so kind to me when I went to the show a few weeks ago. I just wanted to thank them, again, for making that the most wonderful day, and I also wanted them to see how much more weight I had lost, thanks to their challenge. (I am now down 64 pounds). And, part of me was still excited that they still had my shirt, and maybe Dr. Oz could check it off with me. Just praying and hoping and dreaming.

On the train, I was reading Bob Harper’s new book, “The Skinny Rules”, and when I opened to the first page, I couldn’t believe my eyes, as I read that he wrote the book because he was inspired by Ben Ward, Olivia Ward’s (winner of The Biggest Loser) husband, who is our worship director at church. He decided to write this amazing book, all because Ben was following his tweets about what to eat, etc, and was losing weight by following Bob’s rules…so Bob took these rules that were working and created this book. I ended up emailing Ben and Olivia after coming home from NYC, just pointing out how amazing it is when the Lord uses our lives in the lives of others in such a special way.  (ok, this is a small tangent which will make sense later)

Halfway through getting my hair done, my friend, Sharon arrived from Pa. Her husband sent her in a car just for me. The driver dropped her at the salon, and I just hugged her when she walked up behind me. I hadn’t seen her in such a long time. You know that I always point out the God-incidences in my stories, and the fact that she could get away at this time was one of them. Lots of exciting things going on in the lives of her children and her husband, can’t get into the details, but it was amazing that she could get away for those 2 days, and she also pointed out to me, that it was only the second time in her entire married life that she has ever left her family! Believe me, God allowed it all to happen.

After I was “beautified”, we dropped off our bags and then went to grab lunch, walked through Central Park, down to Times Square. The weather was so beautiful, 70’s and sunny. It was around 6pm.. we thought, why not see a Broadway show?..there were only 4 people on the ticket line, we got half price tickets to a show, asked a local person to recommend a restaurant, ended up eating outside on the beautiful night, walked back to Broadway, got our seats, I went to turn off my phone for the show (as it was 5 minutes to the curtain going up….saw I had a voicemail, called to listen and heard….”Hi Wendy, this is _____ from the Dr. Oz show, we were wondering if you could come to the show early tomorrow and come back stage. We wanted to talk to you about your story and possibly have you on the show.”  Oh my goodness!!!! I was busting with excitement!  I told Sharon, then tried to call back, got her voicemail, left a message, and sat there with my head spinning. I said that I would try back during intermission, but then got nervous that it might be too late. At 2 minutes to curtain, I dialed one more time, and she answered.

She asked me if I could be at the show early the next day, explained where to go, etc. And after I hung up, my head was still spinning with what I was going to say, etc. Sharon and I were soooo excited! We enjoyed the show. I called my husband during intermission to tell him.

That night, we got in close to midnight, after ironing and getting our outfits ready, I looked over all of my notes in my binder, (I had all of my Dr. Oz and WW info with me). I also had 60 copies of packets I had originally made for friends/family with all of the info. from Dr. Oz and WW of what has been working for me on this journey, just in case I met anyone at the show who might want it. I was really looking forward to learning from other people who had been in the challenge, what really worked for them, as well as sharing with them all that has worked for me. Close to 1am, I went to bed after praying and putting the next day all in God’s hands.

Around 5am, I heard the beeping of taxis, and I decided to get up and start getting ready. By the time I was all set, Sharon got up and got ready also. We had a cup of coffee, but didn’t really have time for breakfast, because we had to get down to the show earlier than expected. Luckily I had 2 ww granola bars, we had that with our coffee and set out to find a taxi. All Sharon wanted was a big cup of coffee and something else to eat, but we had to keep going. We walked to the corner, and within seconds, got a taxi. Thank you, Lord!

We were told to go to a special entrance and find someone from the Dr. Oz show, which we did. My name was on a special list that they had, and they called someone from upstairs to come and get me. When she arrived, she took Sharon and I to a special room, where we had our pictures taken, and we were issued special ID tags that we had to wear. We were then brought up into the elevators to a main, backstage hallway where all of Dr. Oz’s people were. We were now “behind the scenes”, back stage and it was so exciting.

We walked down the hallway, and there was a table with coffee, fruit, muffins, drinks, etc., and Sharon was so excited as the woman told us that we could help ourselves. She was so happy to make her coffee, she was getting some fruit and a muffin….when all of a sudden the woman said, “oh, Sharon, I’m sorry, you’re not on the show, I didn’t realize that, you have to go back down with the audience.” OK, you had to see her face, she was so bummed. She asked if she could just take a cup of coffee, and the lovely woman,   told her to just help herself and take absolutely whatever she wanted, and she could take it all with her. (yes, thank you, Lord, for this amazing God- incidence….Sharon was never meant to come up with me, but because of that, she was able to have breakfast,(and I’ll just let you know that it is 8am….we sat down for lunch around 1:30, she would have been starving!)  As Sharon left, she had to also hand over her special ID tag…she was bummed. I knew that I would see her when I was brought down to the audience.

I was then taken over to a group of 3 women who were sitting in chairs along a wall, with a door on either side of them. I didn’t realize it yet, but the door to the right was where all of the 10 finalists were with some of their spouses, and the door to the left was the make up room for Jennifer Hudson’s WW leader, Liz. She has been on Dr. Oz’s show many times.

The 3 women and I started to share a bit about our stories, then a 4th woman joined us. One of the producers came over and explained to us that the 5 of us were chosen because of the stories we wrote when we applied for our audience tickets. (remember….the essay that I had to choose to write and decide if I really wanted to go? … the one that Warren and I prayed over before hitting “send”….this is the reason I was chosen to be a part of the show today.)

So, I’m standing in the main hallway, back stage…where all of the “behind the scenes hustle and bustle” is going on. Producers, publicists, make up artists, the top 10, other contestants with amazing stories to share…it was soooo exciting to be there! Already 2 people from the Dr. Oz staff, whom I had met last time, came right up to me and said, “Hi Wendy, so nice to see you, you look great!” I couldn’t believe they really remembered me. Again, his staff made me feel so special!

We continued to share stories with one another….one woman reached lifetime membership at WW at her final weigh in, one woman lost 62 pounds and ran her first 5k, one woman was 51 years old and just adopted 5 year old twins and lost weight and found the hope she needed to get healthy and be there for them, a woman sitting across the hall lost 100 pounds after being humiliated at a bridal dress shop, another woman lost 91 pounds after hitting rock bottom when she couldn’t click the seatbelt closed on an airplane and the attendant proceeded to yell across the plane that she needed an extender. She actually cried the entire flight, and took the extender off the plane with her to use as her “anchor”, to remind her that that was never going to happen to her again.

In between sharing, the producers came over to us a few times to go over what we were going to say to Dr. Oz on the show. The things that we were sharing came from our letters that we had sent in. While rehearsing, I was suppose to be number three in the order. As we got closer to the show, they changed the order, and I was now going to be the first one to speak! Very exciting, but I was very nervous. I just kept praying to say and do the right thing.

At one point, we were all talking about how amazing the WW plan is, and how it has changed our lives. A few of the women were really dreaming about one day being leaders at WW. Someone also, then, stated that they though WW had been the diet plan that has been around the longest. I had just grabbed my folder of the packets I made to share with the girls, one packet was all wise sayings and tidbits of knowledge that my WW leader, Elyse, has shared since the first day I walked in. The other packet was all the info I put together from Dr. Oz and WW. I was handing it out to the women there, when Liz, (Jennifer Hudson’s WW leader) peaked out from the one door next to us and said, “actually WW has been around over 50 years.”  I was so surprised to see her, as I have only seen her on tv. I smiled and said hi, and told her that my WW leader was able to be at the show also, and asked if she knew Elyse….and with that, she then said, “oh,.. you’re Wendy Trunz!” …..OK, take a breath with me here…Jennifer Hudson’s leader, Liz….Liz the WW leader on the Dr. Oz show knows who I AM!!?? The chills went down to my fingers and down to my toes. She explained that Elyse had been sending all of my emails and stories where I had been sharing parts of my blog and my journey and amazing successes….to her. She had been following some of my story. HOW AMAZING IS THAT??!!!

Elyse, my WW leader

With my folder in my hand, I asked if she wanted a copy of all of Elyse’s WW sayings and wisdom, along with my other packet. She said, yes, and took them. Unbelievable! She then went back in to finish her make up and get ready. Wow! That was an amazing moment.

We were still all sharing, and I was just thinking that there are still two more people I would really love to see…the two publicists who listened to so much of my story last time, one of them was the man who really took care of me, held my bag while I talked to Dr. Oz last time, and then they both continue to talk with me as they walked me out of the studio and down the hall last time I was here and had that incredible day.

I was about to ask one of the producers if they were here today, and as I turned to the right,  I actually saw him coming down the hall. I was so excited, I couldn’t believe God’s timing…again. I stepped out and said hi ____ and hugged him. Before I could remind him of my name, he was already smiling, said, “Hi Wendy”, told me how great I looked, and then proceeded to say that he was so sorry that he couldn’t write back to me at all, as it would have interfered with the contest, and he knew how far I was making it, and didn’t want anything to ruin that. I told him that I was just happy to have been able to send him my notes of thanks for making that first day so incredible. But it was really neat to know that he wanted to write back. It was so nice to see him. He was headed to the room with the top 10 to check on them. He really has such a gift of taking care of people and making them feel really special.

At that point, many of the top 10 were hanging out in the hall with us. I wanted to take the opportunity to learn from as many of them as I could. First, I talked to Mike (the man who was losing weight in order to be able to give his wife who had lupus, his kidney). He was talking about how great the ww program was. He talked about how he had lost and gained weight his entire life, he said to all of us…we are all really great at riding that roller coaster, going up and down in our lives, but now this time it is different. We have learned so much, and we are not going to go back. He was also really honest in saying, everyone has to find their own internal switch to turn on, his was originally turned on in order to save his wife. He had to get his body healthy in order to be able to give her his kidney, as he was a match. Eventually, though, he started to feel so much better, he looked younger, felt stronger and more fit, and realized how amazing it was to get his life back, his switch was now turned on for him also. He was very inspiring to listen to, so sweet and so genuine. He was also, as a teacher, inspiring his students, as they watched him transform his life.

Then, I saw Karl, the teacher who lost 88 pounds. I wanted to find out how he lost so much weight in that amount of time. I asked him if he did it completely following the ww program. He said “yes, but thanks to my wife, every single day, 7 days a week, she watched the kids so that I could go down the basement right after work and work out. I did the bike and then weights( because doing weights makes your body burn and boosts your metabolism for much longer), alternating upper and lower body workout, and watched the Dr Oz show she taped for me, just in case I had to know something from the show for the challenge. Then when I was finished, she would have a healthy dinner waiting for me. I couldn’t have done this without her.”  His wife was standing by me. She was the nicest woman, ever. So sweet. She was a bit discouraged with her weight, and just hadn’t found the will to do this for herself, yet. I was able to talk with her for a while, share some of what I found helpful, also gave her my packets and card. It was so nice to meet her.

I also got the chance to ask her what they did to rally votes for the last week. That was something that, at times, kept me awake worrying about. I thought about how I would make up posters, get the word out, etc. When I asked her, she explained how they both had to keep working, and life is busy…she went to the library to vote on those computers, depended on all of the kids at school facebooking, tweeting, etc., she said she did her best and left it up to America to vote.

Slowly, different finalists were being called to make up, and then we were told that we were going to make up, to be touched up since we would be on camera. We were taken to another section of the hall to a professional make up room….big lights around a wall of mirrors, loads of make up boxes all opened, 2 people being made up at a time. I was sitting in the chair wondering about all of the famous people who had sat in the chair I was in. I wanted to take a picture so badly (no cameras allowed at all), It was another very surreal “moment”.

After my make up was done, a few of us were then brought down to the show. We walked back down the hall, as we got closer, to the door at the end, I could hear the warm up guy getting the audience excited. Last time I was at the show, I ended up sitting in the second row, end seat, and I couldn’t believe that God had placed me in that seat. A few times before this show, I just prayed for a good seat, not ever imagining it could top where I sat last time….but then again, just know that when I sit down in my seat today….. I’m reminded again of whose hands I am in…(take a breath….)

The doors opened, and we walked across the set. I looked all over for Sharon and Elyse as I walked across the main floor. When I looked over to the audience to the right, I noticed a woman standing up and waving. It was Gwyn, a woman I met through my blog who was also in the challenge, who came to NYC from Illinois, for her first time ever, to come to the show, as well as see NYC. We have been emailing back and forth throughout the challenge, keeping up with each other’s blogs and stories,  and I would finally be meeting her after the show for lunch.

I then looked to the left and saw Sharon a few rows back, still following the person who was taking me to my seat. When we stopped, I looked down, as he was reaching to pull the tape off, that was holding 3 seats all in a row…..all in the VERY FRONT ROW!!
There were 3 names written across the tape…”Heidi, Wendy, and Jodi.” He ripped the tape… And…. I was sitting in the second seat from the end, first row on the floor! I turned back and looked at Sharon, mouthing, “can you believe this?”

I kept fixing myself, deciding how to sit, as I was going to be right behind Dr. Oz for most of the show, and I also knew that he was going to come over to me, first thing in the show, as I was going to be the first one to speak…yes, the nerves were definitely kicking in, and I had dry mouth.

We were all given paddles with our total weight loss during the challenge. Although mine should have said 47, they gave me one that said 51, (that was ok, since I knew I was 64 pounds down at that point. I just had to remember to use that number when I spoke to Dr. Oz). Heidi sat down next to me. She had a paddle that said 100. She was the girl I met upstairs who was humiliated at the bridal store. I talked to her for a bit while we sat there. A small blonde woman sat on the other side of me, but I didn’t notice a paddle.

The warm up of the audience continued, my head was spinning with what I was suppose to say, praying not to mess up. The stage manager was pointing to me, telling Dr. Oz that he was to go over to me first. I smiled at him, and all that I was thinking was that I just wanted to get up, give him a hug, thank him for saving my life, and ask him if he remembered that I told him that I would be standing next to him on this day! It was a full circle moment for me….But I was only given a few seconds to speak, and we went over what I was allowed to say. I did, however, ask the producer if I could thank him for saving my life, and she said yes.

The show was starting to tape, they counted down…5, 4, 3, 2, 1…we were all bursting with applause, and the show began. After showing a tape, Dr. Oz walked over to me and I stood up. I’m not sure what he asked me, but I proceeded to thank him for saving my life, and the lives of everyone in that audience, and I told him that thanks to all of the knowledge and wisdom he shared, along with all that I learned at ww, in fact my ww leader was able to be there to celebrate with me (another part of my dream come true), I wanted to let him know that it’s ALL that he said it would be!

Again, it was such a surreal moment, such a blur, as there was so much I wanted to share with him. I wish I could just have dinner with him and Lisa, his wife, and just share my journey so far with them. Anyway, I’m hoping I sound ok when I watch it on Wed. It all feels like a dream in slow motion as it is taking place.

So, I sat back down, and he went to a few other people in the audience. Then, each time when they stopped taping, we could talk a bit to the people next to us. Heidi was called up for her segment, and after sharing her story, Mrs. Obama’s dress guy came out and surprised her, promising he will find her a dress for the next wedding she has to be in, in September. He was so nice. Then, each of the 10 finalists shared a segment about something that had really made a difference in their weight loss. The taping took a long time, but it was all so exciting, and I just kept wanting to pinch myself sitting in that front row. Little did I know what was in store for me…..

There were only a few segments left, and I turned to the other woman without the paddle, who had switched seats with Heidi, and she was now on my right, sitting on the aisle.When taping paused again, I asked her how much weight she had lost, and she said, “I didn’t lose any weight, my husband is in the top 10.” With that… my body went into a bit of a stunned state, I felt tears start to well up in my eyes, and I said, “oh my gosh, you’re the woman who needs a kidney”….I was sitting right next to Mike’s wife. I just started to say in my mind, as I was awestruck… “God, really? You placed me right next to her?”

I told her that I voted for her husband. Then I asked her, “When do you have to have your surgery?” and she explained that it wasn’t scheduled yet. She was in stage 3 and you don’t have to have surgery until stage 5. Either way, Mike had to keep getting healthy in case anything happened at any time. She then continued to tell me that she can no longer pay a co-pay, all of her deductibles are over, and all of their money is going to medical bills. She said,”if we win this money….it will change our lives.” (OK everyone reading this, stop and catch your breath…you DO remember why the Lord told me I am not up there?)

At this point, we are told to be quiet, again as they are taping. I sat there and the Lord was putting it on my heart…”tell her your story, let her know, you were told that they are going to win. Do it BEFORE they announce the winner.”

I was hoping they would take a break again, and due to some “technical difficulties”, I was able to have just long enough to share with her. I put my hand on her knee and I asked her if she had any kind of faith, if she believed in God, and she told me that she did. I told her that I needed to share my story with her. I didn’t know how much time I would have, so I told her quickly…. I told her that I was in the challenge and I honestly believed that I would be up there winning the million dollars, and that I got to look Dr. Oz in the eyes and tell him that, just weeks ago. I told her that I made it all the way to the end, and was cut on Friday, before the top 10 were announced on Monday. I told her how I took a long walk through my town, down to the water and cried and pleaded with God to give me an answer as to why, and I got to tell her that He told me that the person who was going to win really needed the money for medical bills and that winning would change their lives. (it was the exact thing that she just said to me). I then said, “you’re going to win. Do you realize you’re going to win the money?” She wasn’t sure, and the waiting at this point was so surreal for her.

Then she told me that today, nobody realizes it, “but today is National Lupus Day.” Then she said something like, “it seems like all the stars are aligned.” I told her, “if you get up there, you have to tell everyone that it’s National Lupus Day.   I then saw them place the big cardboard million dollar check, wrapped in a black cloth on the wall to the left of where we were sitting. I pointed to it, and said to her, “there’s your check. You guys are going to win.”

I still couldn’t believe that the Lord placed me in the seat right next to her, allowed me to hear a bit of her story, which included exactly what he told me in my heart the day I cried and pleaded for an answer walking down by the water. And, I was able to share a bit of my story with her….and there we were waiting for, which seemed like a long time for them to announce the winner. But the “glitch” they were having was just long enough for me to share with her…and there we were on “National Lupus Day”..me, sitting next to the wife of one of the top 10 finalists who lost weight in order to give his wife his kidney….there we were, about to find out who the winner was.

They were finally ready. Dr. Oz had the envelope in his hand. All 10 finalists were holding hands, standing in each of their “truth tubes”. Jodi and I could see right between 2 big cameras, and we were both staring right at her husband, Mike. Dr. Oz opened the envelope and announced, “The winner of the Transformation Nation Challenge is…..Mike!” ….I threw my arms around his wife, Jodi, and just cried. I couldn’t believe all that had just happened. I just cried and hugged her and said, “I’m so happy for you, It’s all exactly how it is suppose to be, I told you that you would win, congratulations.” Then I let go, and we watched Mike cry and accept the check with an amazing speech. As he spoke, I just cried and thanked God for the perfect ending. I whispered out loud, through the tears, while clapping like crazy, “it’s all OK with me, thank you”. One of the cameras turned toward us, to capture the reaction of Jodi, I leaned away, as I didn’t want to be crying so hard on camera. Eventually they motioned for her to come on stage with her husband.

Standing next to her husband, she then gave the most beautiful speech. She said, “this money is not going to buy us a bigger house or fancy clothes or go toward vacations. This money is going to pay for all of our medical bills, and I thank you, America for voting for us, this money will change our lives.” I just stood there in awe of all that was happening, thanking and praising God….standing there at that point, being able to honestly say….I wouldn’t change one thing, it was all as it should have been. ONLY GOD could have orchestrated all of this, and once again I was blessed to be a part of it. Tears poured down my cheeks, goosebumps were all over my arms, chills in my body, and I was FILLED with the most beautiful peace and joy that passes all understanding!….

The audience was ushered out, I asked one of the women on staff if I could wait and have Dr. Oz check off my shirt that they still had. She said, “let’s see what we can do”, and she took me back stage to wait. I was able to thank everyone back there for an amazing day, and shortly after that, they realized that Dr. Oz was swamped with pictures of the winners, etc. And they offered to either give me my shirt there, or they would have him sign it, and then send it to me. So, I told them that I would love it if he could sign it and mail it to me.

I was sent down a special elevator… met Sharon, Elyse, 2 of Elyse’s friends, and Gwyn.  We all enjoyed lunch together. It was great to share about the day and get to know one another better. What a special day it was to experience together.

After lunch, we all parted, Sharon and I decided to walk back to where we were staying. It was about 18 blocks, but it was a beautiful sunny day, temp in the high 70’s, and we had so much to talk about, I couldn’t wait to tell her everything!!  By the time we were walking through Columbus Circle, Sharon looked around and said, “I feel like we are in Disney World!” Everything was so beautiful. It was getting hot, she took off her jacket and was wearing a black tank top. I looked over and said, “someday, I’m going to walk around in a sleeveless tank top and feel great!” She said, “do you know anyone in the city right now?” I said, “no”. Then she said, “stop and just take your blazer off and walk all the way there. It will be another “first”, just do it.”  So I did. I had a Nike fitted tank top on, and I walked the rest of the way feeling the breeze, feeling the freedom of wearing just a tank top, and it was an amazing way to end the day!

We packed up, the car was waiting for Sharon, and they dropped me at the Subway. As I rode on the subway, with a smile that just remained on my face as I just kept going over in my mind all that had occurred in the last 2 days, I was just praying, thanking God for every single moment that I had experienced. I couldn’t wait to go home and share it all with my husband, and I couldn’t wait to sit and write in my journal and try to put into words all that I had experienced and all that had happened, so that I could share it with all of you.

As I thought about that, I was brought back to the very beginning, where I was reading Bob Harper’s book on the train the day before, and the Lord put it on my heart, “Wendy, your journal and your blog is going to become a book. The finale is over, but your journey is not. You are halfway there. You were worried about what you would possibly continue writing about and sharing….and I just had you experience the greatest finale story to continue with. You know that only I could have orchestrated what you just walked through from beginning to end.  I told you that you would touch lives and inspire people even more by not winning. Your story and your journey is far from over. You have a lot more to write about this challenge, about this journey until you reach your goal weight, (which will probably be sometime around Thanksgiving). You have to keep writing and taking pictures and documenting the whole thing, and put it all together and share it with the world.”

I walked, then got on the train, and pondered and thought about so many things, so excited to figure out how to continue all of this, and work towards creating the book.  My friend, who came up with my blog name, actually came up with the title of the book…. but you will have to wait for that….

For now, I will keep going and keep writing, and I hold onto the 2 promises that I held onto when I was devastated finding out that I hadn’t made the top 10…..”He works ALL things together for good for those who love Him”,  and “He promises to do ABUNDANTLY MORE than we can ever ask or imagine.”  Clearly, this finale, and these 2 days are a great testimony to His promises. I can’t wait to see what the future holds, and I will continue to share it as it unfolds.

Many times we watch finales, and we just get to experience and process what we see on tv, I hope you enjoyed watching the Dr. Oz Transformation Nation Finale, and really hope that by hearing my “behind the scenes story” you could see that it was absolutely the perfect ending and finale, not only for Mike and Jodi, but for me also. I never would have imagined that I could be at a place where I didn’t win the challenge, didn’t win the million dollars, and could tell you honestly…..it is exactly how it is suppose to be, I wouldn’t change a thing….Only God could have orchestrated it all!

Thank you, again, for all of your encouragement, support, prayers and love. You have all been such a huge part of this journey which I have been so blessed to walk through….and it’s not over yet!
….To be continued…..

May 15- I Will be at Dr. Oz’s Transformation Nation Challenge Finale on Friday…Very Excited!!

This Friday I will be at the taping of the Transformation Nation Finale! Those who were in the challenge were sent an email to see if we would like to be in the audience for the finale. I’m really excited to be able to go and be a part of it. I forwarded the info to my friend, Sharon, who also signed up when I began, and she was able to get a ticket also. So we are really excited to be going together. I am waiting to see if Meg, my workout buddy, who has been working out with me 5 days a week for this challenge, is able to get a ticket. They will let me know soon. Meanwhile, my famous Weight Watchers leader, Elyse, was able to get a VIP ticket to be there.

I had been telling Elyse since the beginning of the challenge, each time I weighed in at WW…. to get her beautiful red dress and be ready to be standing next to me when I win the entire challenge at the end….Well, I won’t be standing next to Dr. Oz winning the million, but she will be with me at the show to celebrate all that I have accomplished. That’s a dream come true! She was actually on the show when Dr. Oz announced the challenge, so it’s really great that she will be at the finale.

I’m excited to be in a room filled with people who have changed their lives. I can’t wait to talk to them and learn from all of their knowledge and wisdom while I am there. When I was confirmed for the audience, we were asked to send in our stories and before and after pictures, again. We were asked to write about why we joined, how our lives have changed, and if we inspired family or friends. I shared some of my story with them, again,  I forwarded the letter of thanks that I shared with all of you, and I also asked if Dr. Oz would possibly check off my shirt that they still have.

I re-read over the letter, had Warren check it over, we prayed and then hit “send”. The last time I went to the Dr. Oz show, it was a day filled with the most amazing “God-incidences”…I have replayed that day over in my mind many times. Now, I am looking forward to Friday, when I get to go back and be a part of the celebration.

So, I’m hoping that I will have some great stories to share with all of you when I get home from the show. Although I won’t be next to Dr. Oz when the confetti falls…I will be in the audience with friends and my amazing ww leader who literally brought me to this place through all that she has taught me! Soooo excited!!!!

Monday, May 7, 2012-Although I did not make the final 10 of Dr. Oz’s Transformation Nation Challenge, my journey is not over!…

This morning was a new day, a new week, and I knew that I had to get up and head to the gym. There is still so much going through my mind, and yes, my face is blotchy from the occasional tears which still sneak down my cheeks, but what I know for sure is that my journey is NOT over! On Saturday I reached 63.4 pounds! I am half way there. I really wanted to hit that mark, and pictured myself standing next to Dr. Oz, inspiring others, because although I had achieved so much already, I was half way there, and knew that I was in it to finish it. That part has not changed…I am in it to finish it.

Today, I am walking through a few more tough moments, as I’m sure many others are, who didn’t make it to the final 10. One of the hardest parts of finding out you didn’t make it, is telling everyone, everywhere you go, that you didn’t make it. This has been extremely hard for me, as the people at the gym, my church, my local Starbuck’s, local stores, friends, family,  even strangers whom I have given my blog card to…everyone has rallied around me and has been waiting to find out when and how to vote for me.

So, now all of us who have made it this far, only to find out this weekend that we didn’t make it to the final 10, everywhere we go, we need to let people know that the challenge is over for us, we didn’t make it.

Yesterday at church, I let more people who hadn’t read my blog yet know…and they all comforted and encouraged me…this morning I got up and headed to the gym. It was the second hardest time walking through those doors for me (the first time was months ago when I decided to try the gym, filled with intimidation)…now, I stopped for a moment in the parking lot with Meg, and had to get the tears to stop before walking into the gym to tell “my gym family” that I didn’t make it.  I brought a copy of what I wrote on the blog and left it for everyone who works there to read. And, of course, just like my family and friends, they all continued to encourage me. It’s still not easy, though.

During the tough workout, I continued to just pray for the Lord to give me strength, and to remind me that my journey is not over, and He hasn’t left me on it, either. From there, we went to Starbucks to let everyone else know there, as they were also excited to put posters up and have everyone vote for me. I left my story for them to read there.

This afternoon, I will sit and watch the Dr. Oz show as he announces the final 10, and although I know it won’t be easy, I am excited to see other lives that were transformed. I will have a box of tissues ready, and I’ll get through it surrounded by friends and family. I also sent in my information to the show, as they asked if anyone in the challenge who made it would like to be in the audience, so I hope I get to go and be a part of that show.

So, as I walk though this day, I still hold onto the fact that this journey is not over for me, I am halfway there for weight loss. I am excited to continue to push myself to do things I have never dreamed of. I hold onto all of the Lord’s promises to get me through, especially…He works all things together for my good….and promises to do abundantly more than I could ever ask for or imagine! So after praying for months,  to be standing next to Dr. Oz, winning the million dollars…if He hasn’t chosen that path for me, I’m holding on and having faith that this journey that is not over yet is going to be even more amazing than that.

So, although it’s been sooooo hard to get through these last 3 days, I’ve been sooo blessed walking through this miraculous journey so far….and  excited to see where this all leads. And through it all, I am so grateful for how my life has been transformed.

On Saturday, it was really placed on my heart to send a note to thank everyone who created this challenge, because win or lose, it truly transformed my life. And since you have all walked through this with me, I wanted to share it with you, also…

Dear Dr. Oz Team, WW Team and Sharecare Team,

Win or lose, I had to write to thank you for creating a challenge that truly transformed my life inside and out! Although I just got the email yesterday that I didn’t make it to the final 10, I knew I had to write this letter to all of you.

This journey, since you launched it 7 months ago, has been a journey of transformation, inspiration and many miracles. I actually got to stand with Dr. Oz a few weeks ago and tell him that I truly believed that I would be the one standing next to him when he announced the winner of the challenge.

Since September, when I put the “just 10” bracelet on, lost 10 pounds, and then sat on the edge of the sofa when Dr. Oz announced the challenge, believing for the first time that I could win the battle with weight….I am 63.4 pounds down as of weighing in at ww this morning, all of my doctor’s numbers are in the optimal and perfect range. My doctor actually told me how proud she was of me when I went for the physical when I made it into the final 200 winners….she said at that visit that I had “the heart rate and blood pressure of an athlete!” It was a huge moment for me.

As an overweight woman who was afraid to walk through the doors of a gym, I now do things I never dreamed of…cardio blast, zumba, circuit training, spinning, weight training, rowing….and during this challenge the owner of the gym tagged my blog about the challenge on the facebook of the gym, and also put my picture up on the walls of the gym to inspire others. This journey has been beyond words. Learning in this journey that an overweight woman could inspire others now, before getting to my goal weight (which is still another 63 pounds away), that has been incredible.

I also was able to learn and take in something that I couldn’t take in for over 30 years…the fact that I am beautiful and was beautiful 63.4 pounds ago. That is something that I wished I could have shared with all of the women in america, when I pictured myself as the winner of the entire challenge. I just want every woman to really and truly believe that she is beautiful right now, as she is.

Weight Watchers, along with everything I have learned keeping my Dr. Oz notebook when I watch the show everyday, along with all of the knowledge sharecare has been sending….it has ALL finally come together, in order for me to make one small choice at a time, one small change at a time…which has me on the amazing road to victory over the battle with weight and changing my life for a long healthy life ahead.

It was impressed on my heart early on, to keep a journal, which turned into a blog where hundreds of people have been following me on this journey. (wendyweighsin.com) In fact today, when I put the last blog up, where I had to let everyone know that I didn’t make it to the final 10, as I write this, the most amazing emails of encouragement are filling my mailbox, facebook and blog page. Right now, they are all getting me through the really tough reality that I didn’t make the next cut.

I don’t know what this journey is going to lead to. I have felt, since the beginning that it will lead beyond the actual challenge. Although, as I told some people at the show, along with Dr. Oz….I honestly and truly believed that I would be the one standing next to him on 5/23/12.

Do you know when people tell you all about a restaurant or a vacation that they went on…they tell you where to stay, exactly what to order, what excursions to take, what do do exactly….and they can’t wait until you return and tell them, “it’s all that you said it would be!”…..well that is what you all did for me….you gave me all of the information, knowledge and wisdom, told me which choices to make and how…..and I am here to tell you, even though I am exactly half way there……IT’S ALL THAT YOU SAID IT WOULD BE!!!!

I am in a size I have not been in for over 25 years, I have the heart rate and blood pressure of an athlete, my body is able to do things that I never even dreamed of, and now with each challenge met, I add another one…because I truly believe that I can do it.

So, thank you all, for your commitment to transforming lives. You created a challenge and equipped me with everything I needed to be successful and make changes that will last a lifetime. I have gone from pity and feeling deprived of what I can’t have….to feeling fully empowered by what I can have. Each good choice, each piece of wisdom and knowledge has all come together for such a time as this!….and I am so grateful.

This journey at times has left me in awe, left me in tears of joy, and left me absolutely breathless as I have walked through it. I know, although I am still stunned and tears are still running down my face all weekend after finding out that I did not make the final 10, this journey is not over for me. And it has just been impressed all morning on my heart that, win or lose…I HAD to thank all of you for changing my life, and the lives of so many people who came alongside me to cheer me on and learn what I learned from all of you. I will continue to share it all with the world. I am living testimony that miracles still happen!
Many thanks,
Wendy Trunz