She was resigned to the weight gain and extra pounds. It was midlife with fibromyalgia and chronic pain. She almost gave up hope. Then Dina Goodman, more than a hundred pounds overweight, got tired of the excuses and tried one more time to drop the weight and this time it worked!
At the height of the pandemic Dina was working in health and human services, fielding call upon call from individuals in the throes of mental-health crisis because of pandemic grief or isolation. The stress from the secondary trauma had long since driven her back to food and drink and extra weight. Just before COVID hit she had actually found a “comfy” weight. Not as small as she wanted to be, but not so big that she couldn’t enjoy floating the river with Gus, her husband, or camping with her grandkids. “Comfy” was enough for a grandma with a husband who lavishly loved her no matter what the scale said.
The stress, the isolation, the pandemic, the failed attempts to medically mitigate her pain and thyroid issues all added pound upon pound until she was not only back to her weight before “comfy,” but beyond it. The pain was nearly unbearable. Forget camping with the grandkids, she couldn’t even get down to sit with them on the floor. There was no way she could float the river or leave Gus at the fire pit for a leisurely solo hike. She hurt too bad. Hope was almost gone, but something, likely a nudging from the Holy Spirit, compelled her to not give up just yet. She had another try in her.
She reached out to a friend who was sharing her weight loss journey on Facebook. The friend, Shannon, had joined a program designed by a critical care physician. It made sense to Dina and appealed to her. Shannon encouraged Dina to pray about it. Dina did pray, and on March first of 2021, she joined the program. The program focused on “whole health” and wellness. Though mild caloric restriction is part of initial phases of the plan, so are healthy food options, high protein, probiotics, vitamins and minerals. More than this, a large focus of the program is tackling mindsets that distort healthy food associations. Dina’s work in mental-health affirmed the program was going about things correctly.
After just three days on the program she was pain free and on the floor playing with her grandchildren! Gus pointed it out to her and she was amazed she hadn’t even noticed. The weight loss program mitigated her long-time pain; it was enough to keep her engaged. The high protein and “lean & green” meals knocked out her hunger and helped her identify when she looked too food for emotional support rather than nutritional value. It was fascinating and freeing to her. As a life long Christian she’d never thought of herself as an addict to anything, but through the program’s education, she realized her emotional relationship with food was, in fact, addictive in its nature. The pounds came off quickly and in less than nine months she was down nearly a hundred pounds. Her results aren’t typical for the program, but it makes sense to her, because of how dramatically, her mindset, not only her nutritional habits changed.
Sadly, the ravages of COVID took their toll on Dina and Gus. Both fell prey to the virus in November of 2021 and battled with COVID pneumonia. Gus, like so many, wasn’t able to overcome the virus’ hold. The man, loved and revered by many, went home to be with the LORD November 21st, 2021. Dina was left to grieve. She sees now how God was gently preparing her for Gus’ loss all those months before. A whisper of encouragement to carry on. A decision to embrace something new and change her mind and nutritional habits. With all of the preparation equipping her, she turned to Christ and to family and community support instead of food to cope with the grief and loss. A year into her health journey, Dina is just beginning her grief journey and life without Gus at her side. He always loved her, no matter what her weight was. He adored her for who she was, but she’s still grateful he was able to see her near her goal weight before he moved on to heaven.
Today, Dina is down 119 pounds. She found her healthy, “ideal” weight based off of her physician’s BMI charts. With the weight off and pain gone, she’s beginning to incorporate exercise and movement into her lifestyle. Short walks, bicycle rides, planks and resistance bands currently comprise most of her activities while she waits for hiking trails to open up. Dina’s current goal is to find her healthy, “ideal” caloric intake to match with her ideal activity level.
Dina is no longer “on plan” and foods other than just “lean & green” are allowed back in. For Dina her tastes have completely changed, what once was not enough cake, is now far too much and way too sweet. She allows herself small indulgences but notices what her body resists and what makes her feel ill or less than her best. She prefers the holistic approach to her food and cooking and is glad her family has embraced it as well. The family has always enjoyed cooking together, and they still do, but now the foods are better for them and the recipes they try are health and wellness minded.
Dina’s one more try was worth it. She found a healthy weight and nutritional lifestyle she can embrace and maintain. She enjoys coaching others into healthier life and mindsets now. She welcomes anyone who is curious about the program to reach out to her on Facebook. She trusts God to continue to prepare and equip her for all that’s in front of her and is grateful for all she has despite the loss of Gus.
** In the Optimal Weight 5 & 1 Plan(Registered) is 12 pounds. Clients are in weight loss, on average, for 12 weeks. **
Wendy Jones was reluctant to change her health, fitness or nutritional lifestyle. Her mother, gone too soon at the age of 53, lost her life largely due to the use of Fen Phen. Wendy’s boyfriend, Tim, was of the mindset that if death is inevitable, it at least doesn’t have to come from starvation. With an aversion to dieting aids and a culture of eat-what-you-want surrounding her, Wendy took the blows to her health as they came and accepted the extra pounds as part of life.
Sure, she knew that just a little bit of walking, like she’d done for one short month in her thirties, was enjoyable and netted a noticeable weight loss; but the effort and the stress of changing her lifestyle wasn’t worth the pay off. She’d tried many of the fads, the shakes, the weight watching, the pressure to try this exercise or that fitness routine. It frustrated her and turned her off. She didn’t need someone telling her she was overweight, the mirror did that just fine. She didn’t need someone to push her to do an exercise her body raged against. She just needed … to move.
There was more to it than a move, but purchasing a home and moving last summer was the catalyst that got her health and fitness on track, on her terms, maybe for the first mindful time. It’s sticking too! On a keto diet often strict, but admittedly holiday dirty (or gracious depending on how she looks at it) Wendy has lost 45 pounds in about 6 months.
How did a move motivate the change? It started when her boyfriend, Tim, passed away. The reality that life was short and her weight and health were out of control overwhelmed her. She knew she ought to do something but not what. She was grieving and didn’t want to do anything. How did she stick with healthy changes when she never had before? The overwhelm of it all stopped most of the momentum before it ever got past her thoughts.
Wendy’s a teacher and COVID sent her home for far too long. Her fit bit told her she took fewer and fewer steps each day and her seat told her she was the dictionary definition of sedentary. Anything she lost all those years ago walking, were long since put back on, along with other pounds that added on over the years and COVID months. Her dizzy spells got worse with medications meant to treat the issues that were causing some of her weight retention. Headaches and lack of motivation made even going upstairs for a charger cord nearly impossible. But she had to move, and a lack of motivation to pack and haul food from an old pantry to a new pantry got her thinking about food.
She wanted to eat what was left in her house before moving to avoid packing it. One by one, the processed foods and packaged products came out and got used up. She noticed that nearly everything was somehow processed, refined or preserved. The fresh foods were gone soon enough and she was left to use what she had. It was enough to get her beyond thinking. She looked into keto. Less carbs meant more whole, fresh food. Whole, fresh food was fancy, like the cheesy eggs she now enjoys for breakfast instead of sugar cereals.
After the move, she made a mindful switch on the foods she purchased. She bought more fresh vegetables and foods and discovered that she actually enjoys prepping snack bags for the fridge. She has healthy treats ready to grab-and-go whenever she or one of her daughters wants to eat. She preps healthy, fresh snacks and her kind of salads (the kind light on lettuce and loaded with other yummy whole food additions) on Sundays, and often reloads again on Wednesdays. She’s noticing that the girls, who she didn’t want to deprive, ask for less junk with the availability of more healthy snacks at the ready.
Her weight loss wasn’t on purpose, in fact it was so slow she really didn’t notice until she saw an “old” picture from 2019. The change was dramatic! She didn’t think she was ever THAT big. She hadn’t felt that big. She wondered what she looked like now and took a full length selfie. The difference was evident, not just to her but her Facebook following too.
It’s been all intake and nutrition for Wendy, exercise was NOT in her plan. She hated to sweat, there was no motivation to move. She knew food was the way to go for her, but oddly enough, she remembered those walks from years ago along the ACC woods loop. She enjoyed them, and after the move, she started to walk again... down random streets in the old section of her beloved town. Unscripted, spontaneous zigs and zags along friendly streets to see what the town has to offer from day to day. Sometimes it’s for her easy to get up and invite her young daughter, Dalilah, out for a walk with her. Sometimes Dalilah invites her, but Wendy is exercising, on her terms. Her exercise looks like a friendly neighbor keeping tabs on her town. She’s changing her food intake, on her terms, getting comfortable cutting veggies and the quiet joy that comes from an unexpected pleasurable activity. She’s changing her health and fitness for the better, her way, one snack, one step at a time.
Weight loss goals aren’t necessarily a focus in her life, but she does think it might be nice for once to walk the full 5k the town hosts each October. She’s thought about it for years. Maybe this is the year she does it! Maybe this is the year the scale drops under 200! No matter what, she’s proud of her changes and intends to keep at it and see where a healthier mindset takes her!
Sam Baird I learned about Sam from my husband. As an avid fisherman, he, like thousands of others followed high-school cohort, Sam Baird, on social media. Sam’s Slammin Salmon Guide Service and “anti-pro blend” scent brand has given him much respect and credit in his fishing niche. I can’t say I ever took notice, more than to marvel at how many Kokanee his guide service consistently pulls out of Lake Chelan… and then it happened, Sam Baird turned my head.
It wasn’t his fishing, although he is a master at his sport, it was his weight loss journey that eventually piqued my interest. “Look at this guy!” my husband kept saying, “He’s losing so much weight. He looks great! Some Keto thing.” I looked at the pictures. Sam Baird was a shrinking man, shaking off excess weight at an astonishing rate. When he posted that he was nearly a hundred pounds down, I knew I had to meet him. We met at Starbucks, but Sam didn’t order. Keto is his secret to weight loss success and there is no room in the plan for the carbs Starbs pedals.
True to an expert guide, Sam made me feel comfortable from the start. Conversation came fast and easy and in no time, I too felt like I’d known Sam since high school. Sam graduated in 1997 as a strong athlete at 225 pounds and the world was at his finger-tips; but injury after injury and the curse of time got the best of him. Twenty years later he was an angry, sick, depressed and morbidly obese man, weighing in at 352 at his highest. Sam admits he knew he was in poor health and avoided doctors, but was eventually diagnosed with fatty liver disease and was on his way to an early grave. He felt defeated but continued to drink a case of Mountain Dew a day, put on his charming, albeit, fake smile and trudge through one miserable, painful day after another.
In the summer of 2018 Sam’s son came out of the closet and also cut sugar out of his diet. The transformation was swift and obvious and his son’s courageous journey motivated Sam to realize change is possible and there could be more to life than the misery he’d become accustomed to. Sam credits his sixteen year old son as that initial inspiration, but the Keto cult is what eventually got his fire burning.
Almost by accident, Sam stumbled across a movie called, “The Magic Pill.” Rage woke him up and fueled a desire to change his life. The Magic Pill, a pro-Keto documentary on the evils of the modern American, high-carb, low-fat diet turned him on to a new way of thinking about health and food. On January first of this year, Sam Baird, with the support and participation of his partner, joined the movement.
Food... Keto is all about food; high-fat, low carb foods to be precise. Sam eats a diet that is 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% carbs and those are strictly from vegetables; no fruit, no sugar, and most difficult of all for the donut loving sportsman, no breads of any kind. Drinking changed too, water immediately replaced that case of soda and today Sam regularly drinks a gallon of fresh, clean water a day. The only other liquids allowed are his bulletproof coffee in the morning, a mixture of coffee, butter, cream, MCT oil and sugar free syrup, and the occasional, very occasional, drink of clear liquor.
Luckily Sam loves to cook and coming up with delicious Keto recipes is a fun challenge he gladly takes on. He often posts his beautifully plated, tasty meal concoctions on social media. Viewers palates are constantly piqued by his meat and veggie treats like: grilled asparagus with Parmesan, cauliflower rice, Keto-friendly BBQ beef burritos in cheese, folio wraps, marinated chicken breasts, pork rind and Parmesan breaded Kokanee fresh from Lake Chelan, to name just a few.
Elimination of many foods obviously affected Sam’s caloric intake, reducing it from an estimated 3500-4000 calories a day to just around 1000. Some challenge that Sam’s weight loss is more likely attributed to the mass caloric drop than Keto, but he respectfully disagrees. One of the principals behind Keto is that throughout human history we’ve been hunter/gatherers and didn’t consume large amounts of calories each day. A lower daily caloric intake is more like what the body is designed to manage. Sam says 1000 calories are plenty and the high fat diet leaves him satiated. He says he’s not even hungry through the day.
Today, only five months from the beginning of his journey, Sam is down 112 pounds. He feels stronger and more virile than he has since he was in his twenties. His sex drive is back where it used to be, and each inch he loses in his belly seems to grow his manhood the same amount he said with a playful smile and bob of his eyebrows. Then, he spoke in all seriousness and sincerity, he truly feels like he’s living life again; he’s energetic, he’s no longer mad all the time, he’s free from aches and pains he expected to deal with for the rest of his life and is learning to adjust to life in a thin man’s body. Keto is a lifestyle he has embraced and he won’t go back, no matter how great the food temptations get. He much prefers a healthy, thin life to the miserable fat life that used to be his. Sam likes that Keto doesn’t require a strict fitness regime but he still aspires to add in some strength training after getting to his goal weight of 200 pounds. Once achieved, he wants to build back to a muscle-heavy 225.
Sam’s encouragement to all is that if he can do it, anyone can. It’s OK to admit not being ready to make a change yet, it will happen when it’s supposed to. He assured me that even with the substitutions and challenges in finding Keto friendly foods all the time, it’s actually easier than people might expect. He guarantees that the trade-offs are worth the effort and a better life is just on the other side of making the change to live a healthier life.
In 2018 I interviewed and followed people for my blog, not just any people; average, ordinary, fitness minded people. They were twelve souls from seven different local gyms and one at-home representative. All in different stages of fitness. All with different motives. All intent on living a life where their health and fitness mattered. I liked the idea of it because not everyone has a super amazing story but everyone has a story, a journey, and they wanted to share theirs with me, and you!
The truth is, I feel like it takes a lot of courage to do what they did, to be available, open, honest and willing to check in and share their journey. In my mind the undertaking was going to be amazing, and because I knew following twelve people was going to be tricky I tried to devise a simple check-in for us all to do. Well, it turns out web-posts for a dozen people from over a half dozen gyms is more time consuming than I anticipated! But, we made it through the year, this fitness crew and me! We did it, and though I’m not finishing with as many as I started with, I can say the experience has been well worth the year. Some of the participants inspired me to do more, some challenged me to look at myself, what I was doing and if it was working, and some, I hope will stick around in my life and become more than just fellow participants in a fitness project.
So the wrap-up of this amazing series was much like the introduction. I aimed to sit down with each of the participants and see what they thought of this journey, how they finished, and where they’ll go from here. Four of the twelve met up with me in January and I have a handful to finish up with in February. What I can say is, life is interesting. They all had surprises, they all had successes and set backs, and so far each of the four I’ve sat with has maintained a place in their life for activity and fitness.
The first finale interview was with Melissa, the at-home representative. From our first interview (which was over the phone because she was also the only non-local on the team) I knew she was going to put out results, but was surprised at how they happened. Melissa wanted to try the Keto diet. I confess I don’t fully understand the ins and outs or theories of the diet plan, but she was in. For the first part of the year she was steadfast in giving it a try. She found online forums to participate with and even used the pee-strips to be sure she was getting into the right “keto” zone. Unfortunately for her, after four months the results didn’t impress. Her body didn’t react favorably to a high protein low carb regime, and she decided to take some time off.
The summer was not a friend to her exercise or nutrition routine. She was drinking and eating too much and not at all active like she planned to be.
Then it happened one night in bed. She saw an ad for WW (Weight Watchers) and got up, got out of bed, and joined that minute. It might have been impulsive for some, but it’s proved to be lifestyle changing for Melissa. Since that night’s decision she’s down thirty-one pounds, goes to weekly meetings to stay accountable and encouraged and recently re-started using weight and exercise videos at home.
Melissa’s stuck with the program long enough now that people are starting to take notice. She admitted through teary-eyes that her husband is a huge support. He told her he wishes she could see herself through his eyes and how beautiful she is and how proud he is of her accomplishments. She admits she can’t quite see the improvements yet, but she can fit in old clothes and the measurements don’t lie. WW works for her; she can eat what she wants, just has to be wise about her choices. She can still participate as she wants in life without feeling restricted, and she admits it was good to stop drinking so much, there were just too many extra calories and negative affects.
The coming year holds much promise for Melissa! She’d like to continue to lose one or two pounds a week until she’s down another thirty and to her goal. To keep her running momentum, she signed up for a half-marathon, Arlington’s “Cupcake Run,” and intends to run the whole thing. Running has proved to be a kind of therapy for her since her father’s passing and she loves how much better it feels to get out there with less weight to carry. It will be a year to be proud of to be sure!
Finally at the beginning of the year I asked the participants where they rated themselves on a scale of 1-10 as they considered their own body image. When we began, Melissa rated herself a 5.5, but after the last half of the year’s successes, she finished with a 6.5 and confidence that in time she’ll get to 10!
Weight goals: lose 2-3 pounds a week (Starting Weight 216)
Nutrition goals: follow Ketogenic diet for 3 mos than re-evaluate
Other goals: get back into a consistent exercise/fitness routine 5 times/wk with at-home videos, start running again, run a half-marathon in the summer
Weight: 201 (down 20.2lbs)
Average number of workouts/week: I work out a minimum of 4x a week, mostly running and walking.
2) November goals:
Workouts: 5x/week and start doing some toning videos 3x/ week. Continue to increase running strength and stamina.
Nutrition: Nutrition to continue with WW
3) Do you have a health/nutrition plan for the upcoming holidays and festivities?
Eat what I want but being mindful and making educated choices. Tracking (honestly) what I eat and continuing to learn to have control.
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