Missing Richard Simmons

 

 

In the world of podcasts, the #1 Podcast in the nation was Missing Richard Simmons (click on the blue for a link) for the last few weeks. It’s still in the top 10. As some of you know I know Richard, and did some testimonials for his products. I lost 200 pounds with his help back in 94-98 and did some testimonials for and with him. I met a lot of great people through Richard that I will have for life, and had experiences that were once in a lifetime.

I knew very little about Podcast when I did the interview, I had no idea they were such a big industry these days.  I really didn’t know the depth of what I had gotten myself into. I blindly trusted someone to carry my true story about my association with Richard and not put a twist on it or sensationalize it. Dan was very gracious to do that. Thank you Dan!

But there is a part of this story that I did not share. A side I shared with only a few people in my life. I have not spoken publicly about this because I did not want to come off bitter or ungrateful. But here it is.

Let me tell you as briefly as I can what I did with Richard Simmons 20 years ago. Unfiltered. I was 444 pounds, I watched Richard on all the talk shows in the 90s. I actually went to great lengths to contact him. I sending him mass letters, tried to win contest on talk shows. One in particular for a Cruise to Lose on the Maury Povich show (this is before he changed his format of his show to “Baby Daddy”) I watched who later became a friend, win that cruise on the show that I had entered. I ended up paying my own way. Right after I signed up for the cruise in December ’94 Richard came to Sioux City to oversee the cookies he made at the cookie factory here in my town that were sold at Walmart, in was in the hight of the fat free crazy, where everyone was cutting out fat and eating tons of sugar instead. So cookies were diet food because they were fat free. Meeting Richard Simmons I met Richard on that cold sub-zero day, and thus the beginning of my association with this fitness guru. He was very gracious to me on that day and made some private time alone with me. I poured my heart out, I was not there to meet a celebrity, I was there to ask for help to lose weight.  I gave him my phone number. I left that cookie factory with a little bit of hope. Richard called me the next Sunday at home, and I went and paid my own way on the Cruise to Lose in March weighing 415 pound, I lost some weight before the cruise, but had a long way to go. That first cruise to lose got me inspired to get serious about losing weight. This was how I met Richard Simmons, in my little mid-western town, a morbidly obese woman who was asking for help from someone I believed might care.

The year following the cruise I spent losing weight, talking to Richard on his weekly calls, and writing many letters to the people I met on the cruise. Few people, including me, had computers back then, so we wrote letters and snail mailed them. By the next March in ’96, I had 100+  pounds lost. I looked great, I had a lot of weight still to lose but I looked so different, it made an impact.  I had a great time on that cruise with friends I had met on the previous cruise and had been writing and calling that year.

When I got home from the cruise I got a call from Richard that he wanted me to be in his next informational in NYC in August. I was a good candidate as a marketing tool for him, I was losing weight, I looked great, because I am a hairdresser and knew how to present myself at my best, I was clean cut, from a small-town that people could relate to. I was articulate because my job required me to connect with people all day. I was honest, smart, and a bit naive, OK, very naive.

The NYC informational was a blast! nice hotel in Manhattan, my friends were there that I had met on the cruise. I felt like Gomer Pyle in that great city, I’m pretty sure my mouth was gaping open most of the trip looking up at all the tall buildings, since the tallest construction in my town was the water tower or a corn elevator. . Some people, like me, were asked to do testimonials in the informational, many were fans and friends of Richards that were very loyal and dedicated and showed up everywhere across the country that he made any appearance. It was a bit spooky to see the same faces over and over showing up randomly across the country, like malls, and talk show tapping. I was shocked to know there were people who would buy plane tickets and drive very long distances regularly to have their moment with Richard. He was always very good about staying around for hours signing autographs and letting people pour their hearts out to him.

There was this unspoken competition among his followers. Always dropping information about when Richard called them, or if they had been to his home, or gotten a letter. It appeared that the most devoted followers made claims trying to prove the point they were close to Richard. It was like a competition. This really took me off guard, because I saw Richard primarily as someone who could help me get healthy and live a life free from obesity. I noticed it on the first cruise, I swear some of them would shove you aside just to get close to Richard. Maybe it’s just in my head, but the fans from LA were always throwing daggers at some of us who were from other parts of the country and were used for the testimonials. There was a silent resentment. And the ones who seemed to be closest to Richard were the popular girls, like in high school, everyone wanted to hang with them.

I find it interesting listening to the “Missing Richard Simmons” podcast that people who considered themselves close friends with Richard are questioning if they were really close friends with him or not. They seem to be quite distraught about his disappearance, and are taking it personal.

I went home that August, and continued my weight loss journey, I was just a bit over 300 pounds, and had lost around 150. Still getting called from Richard every week, as well and letters he sent me in the mail. I got a call in January of ’97 from Richard that he wanted to get everyone in my town on a diet, and do the next informational in my town, with me leading my fellow fat citizens on their path to good health.  He asked me if I could lose 50 pounds by August and have a total of 200 pounds lost, that would have put me at 244 pounds, with a lot of weight still to lose. I now clearly see I was a good marketing tool for Richard. My story would be based on the public seeing the progressive weight loss. I was not going to miss this opportunity, and as any chubby people pleaser would do, I cheerfully agreed. Actually I felt honored.

Richard appeared in South Sioux City, Nebraska in February with his shorts shorts on a tank top. His marketing people from Goodtimes were along as well as the producers who were going to make the informational. The following days were a  whirlwind. This was the part they filmed where Richard and I rallied around and got everyone in my town on a diet, and possibly be in an informational. He was at my Beautyshop, the local grocery store, the local coffee spots, and even my church. Along with this was the media from Sioux City, Omaha, and Sioux Falls, both print and newspapers, and a few tabloids. Then as quick as they came, they all left.

Scheduled to come back in August to tape the informational. I was alone, It felt like I was left to clean up after a huge party. I felt responsible to get everyone to lose weight, my phone rang off the hook. The next 6 months I was overwhelmed with people, yet I never felt so alone. Nobody could possibly understand the pressure. I had to lose 50 pounds, answer a billion questions to everyone who spontaneously popped into my shop while I was working on customer, cutting hair. They all wanting to know  how they could lose weight and be on TV. Along with that, I got calls everyday from the media, shock jocks who would just call me up at work and catch me off guard, asking me questions like, How fat are you? Are you a virgin? and the endless questions about Richards personal life. That was so hard, and I felt so vulnerable. I was single, I went home alone, with nobody to unload all this onto. When I addressed this with Richard, he received it as complaining, then threatened to pull the plug. When what I wanted was to be heard and understood, and maybe some help.  One thing kept my head above water, was the kind folks at Lieberman Productions, the people who filmed the whole thing. I will be forever grateful for Lenny Lieberman and his producer Nina Resnikoff. She was kind, and saw all I was dealing with, she treated me with respect, and was always checking in on me. I realize now, she was concerned about the pressure I was under.

Come August ’97 I had the 50 pounds off to meet my 200 pound loss. I have not told anyone this but I lost most of the last 50 pounds fasting 2-3 days a week, and taking laxatives. I’m not very proud of that.

What I did not know how to handle was the fans and groupies. Groupies never admit to being a groupie. They all believed they were special friends with Richard. I had also noticed from my first cruise there seemed to be a competition about who was closest to Richard. It seemed those who claimed the most time with him, everyone else kind of sucked up to them. And the fans from LA, who regularly attended his exercise studio, were not very  friendly to those of us who Richard had met elsewhere. There seemed to be a very strong East Coast fan based, and sort of a rival between East and West coast. All this hype and the fans sort of hit me blindsided and I really didn’t know what to think. It all seemed so weird to me. In the mid-west, for the most part we are very genuine, and straight forward. We are not touched by Hollywood face to face, so we are not star struck like in some of the bigger cities.

Shooting the informational was fun, and stressful. I lost myself in the middle of all this. I lost my focus as to why I wanted to lose weight, it went from wanting a healthy body and a good life to TV, interviews and testimonials in front of a camara. I still had a lot of weight to lose, yet I was put up on a stage in front of my whole town, and on TV as a role model. It was fun, but honestly, what I really wanted was a healthy body and a life aside from all the care taking I have done all my life. It seemed my purpose in life was to make everyone else look beautiful except me. But all the attention was confusing, I could not see what was real and what was just sucking up. I had no real concept as to how much money was made from all of this. I thought the new friends I made were for a lifetime. I believed when someone befriended you, they didn’t have an agenda, they truly wanted to be your friend for life. And Richard convinced me, he was among them.

We shot the informational in my high school gym. I was not very popular in High School. I was the fat girl, I made friends by being nice, or funny or doing things for people. I never went to a single dance or even a football game. So shooting this think at my school was surreal, and humbling.

I got to spend a lot of time with Richard, and the people who worked for him and met some really amazing people. One thing I have always said about Richard, he had some of the best people in the business working for him. Really good people, with a loads of talent. I got to have Richard visit my beauty shop, come over for lunch, and meet my family and friends. It was fun to have him in my world.

After the production was over, I was then a marketing tool to promote the stuff we were selling on the informational, which was a couple of exercise tapes called “Dance Your Pants Off” a few stretch cords, a water bottle with a filter, and a bottle of vitamins. Let me be clear, I was not in the exercise video, I was the face that was used to promote it.

That informational ran a good year, several times a day on many channels, a lot of it was in the middle of the night. Many times I would get a phone call in the middle of the night from some drunk frat boys, or insomniac watching informationals at night. My full name, and town was mentioned on the informational, so I was easy to find. I lived alone, and most of the calls were not polite. I got calls and letter from desperate people, wanting to lose weight. I was not prepared for any of this. I was put on a pedestal too soon, I was a drowning person trying to help those around me who were drowning as well. I did not feel qualified, and hadn’t worked out my own issues yet.

I shared this with Richard, but it didn’t seem to concern him. Honestly, I don’t think he knew what to do. One time I was standing in my shop cutting hair and a cameraman was set up with a tripod across the street filming me through my shop window, I went across the street to see who he was and it was the golf channel!  I got a lot of calls from tabloids as well.

Peak season for the weight loss and fitness world, is January 1. So once January hit, and the informational was edited and released, I was asked to do some appearance with Richard using my testimonial. It was the hight of the talk show craze. Oprah, Jenny Jones, Maury Povich, Sally Jessie Raphael, even Carny Wilson had a talk show for a little while. Most asked me to be on their show. I was interviewed on Entertainment Tonight, Richard and Kathy on ET  Hard Copy, and Extra. Richard and Kathy on EXTRA  A guy from the “Star” offered me a lot of money to tell him about personal things about Richard. I told him no, needless to say.  I turned down a lot of them, but agreed to do Maury, before his format changed. Richard and Kathy on Maury…….. I was on QVC on New Years. That btw was how you knew you “arrived” in Richards world. It was the highest of status in the groupie world. He was on QVC several times a year and took a “Cinderella Story” with him on the show. the trip included a few days in Philadelphia, a nice hotel room, and a piece of jewelry from the “vault” from QVC as a reward for the trip. Of course the gift appeared as a gift from Richard.

I was so naive, I remember eating something out of the mini bar in my room and feeling guilty I had spent money that was not mine since someone else paid the hotel bill. Not giving any though that my testimonial on QVC in those 3 hours was bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars.

QVC invited the fans to come see the appearance live, New Years Eve. We were on 10:00 to Midnight, to ring in the new year. I got a New Years Kiss from Richard on live TV that new years eve, while the confetti fell from the sky. The studio was packed with fans who traveled miles and miles to see him.

I must have been asked a thousand times, how much Richard paid me to do all of this. I would close my shop and fly to NY or Phily to appear on something, I had to pay to board my dog. I was never paid, or reimbursed for the loss of business. Nobody wants to talk about money. When I even hinted to Richard the burden it left me financial, he made me feel I was ungrateful. I appeared on The Maury Show with a group of fat folks who all, except me, got a free Cruise to Lose. I soon became embarrass when asked what I got from all the marketing I had done and found excuses to avoid the subject. I want to make perfectly clear, that I was never promised anything, I willingly participated. But this was really a finance burden, I made a living doing $10 haircuts in the mid 90s in a small town.

After all this, and I was no longer Richards Golden child, and he moved on to the next one, the phone calls became less and less. I started gaining weight. It was like plucking someone off the farm, taking them to Paris, then dropping them back off. There was no one who could possibly understand this crazy ride I was on.  I would ask Richard for help. He offered for me to send him my food sheets, but that was about it.  Gained weight rapidly, and spun into deep depression, making some aweful choices. My Mom died, he sent flowers, my Dad died he sent flowers, I got married, he sent me a George Forman Grill, my husband died, nothing. I spun into deep depression, I had no living relatives, and I was broke, too fat to work anymore. I shut down, stayed home and spent most of the next 8 to 9 years in bed for the most part. That part was not Richard Simmons fault. He did nothing to me, but he also, did nothing for me. I just got sucked up in the vortex of it all.

Was I a close friend of Richard Simmons? Not as close as I once thought. I finally figured out I was a business venture for him after I gained back the weight and everyone around me died. I did not fully know what I was signed up for, but also was not promised a thing. Many of the friends I made during that time in my life have faded as well. Some were just my friend for the ride, some just faded as friendships sometimes do.

The podcast “Missing Richard Simmons” does not go into any detail about the many, many “Cinderella Stories” who were used for selling merchandise then placed back in their lives when their time was up. So when asked, Does Richard owe us a good-bye. Well, it would have been a nice gesture, but I am not surprised.

I found it a little odd that this was not addressed. All the people over the years who were inspired to lose weight with Richards products, and were used to sell his products. Then almost all, like me, started gaining it back, and he would quietly slip out of your life. Unless you lived near his exercise studio and exercised their regularly, most of us never saw or heard from him. I can not tell you how many times conversations I have had with people who’s experience was like mine. The only difference being, I had Richard blow open my world in my home town. Richard has made a lot of money off of fat lonely, mostly middle age women. The cruises alone in the mid 90’s were a minimum of $1500, multiply that times 300 to 400 times. Nobody talks about this. I am certain if I get brave enough to post this, I will get some heavy duty backlash.

I have met Theresa who takes care of Richard and his home. The stories about her controlling him or being a witch casting spells is ridiculous. She is a lovely, loyal friend to Richard, and was always very kind to me whenever I was in Richard’s home. Theresa did not deserve having her integrity questioned. I don’t fault Dan as much as the guy who claims to be a “masseuse”, who kicked the hornets nest with what I believe was self promotion, not out of his great concern for Richards wellbeing.

I hoped I had made a life long friend when I first met Richard Simmons, but now I can honestly say, I was an acquaintance, and a part of his business world. I just wish he had been clear about that from the beginning. It was an experience I will never forget, and a part of who I am. I am not bitter, or regretful. I had a little fun, experienced things I would have never experienced, and got an education to boot. But when asked the question, does Richard Simmons owe his fans a goodbye? He owes me nothing, but a little gratitude from him would have gone a long way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food for Thought

 

We got snow yesterday, lots of it, I think it ended up being a bit under 10 inches. So I am housebound for a bit. I’ve been really digging deep to get out of this weight loss funk I am in and get my rhythm back. I lost about 7 pounds last month, but I’m still not in a the rhythm I want to be in.

I did some changes in my plan, and my support. I have added another friend, daily, to my food plan and support. I like the simple structure, and accountability this brings. I have been planning all my food at the beginning of the day, or the night before. I track it on MFP, and send it to my friend every day.

I have only been doing this a few days, but I am kind of surprised what it has shown me about myself. I use to just plan my meals,  meal by meal, and randomly snacked with sloppy accuracy. I have not fully gotten the night eating  under control. It comes in waves, and sometimes I get up and eat something that is not all that bad, but just the fact that I get out of bed in the middle of the night to eat is not good. I never ever do that because I am hungry. It’s usually done when I wake in the middle of the night and feel so alone. I am sure I use food to comfort. I am adding more accountability to that as well.

So getting back to what I have learned. When my food is planed out ahead of time, it seems to release me from thinking about what I am going to have for the next meal. I did a lot of thinking about food through out the day. A LOT! More than I realized. In fact I noticed how much my head goes to food by how many times I had food thoughts yesterday and remembered it was already planned, and then dismissed it from my brain.

I also found out that planning my food keeps me from cooking a meal as if it’s a craft or art project. I don’t know if its because I am so creative and right brained, but cooking to me is fun. I am a creative soul, and realize I am happiest when I am creating something. So it stands to reason when I have a food addiction, and get stimulated creatively, the combination is lethal. But for me, cooking and food should not be in that category. I know many of you do not get this at all. I have friends who hate to cook, and find it a chore. But it’s always been a creative outlet for me, and I am just beginning to realize the extent of this in my life. When I cook I never use a recipe, or if I do, I aulter it. I spent way too much of my time watching Food TV, scouring through recipes on line and even planning my grocery list. I frequently order my groceries on line, and have them delivered. I have found myself shopping for food as if I’m on a shopping spree.

A close friend of mine says, we are all teachers to each other, even the people around us that have bad habits or struggles, are teachers of what we do not want to be. I’m not naming names here and I am counting myself as well, but I have noticed a common denominator among my biggest and most food addicted friends. Some of us are more than obsessed with eating food, we are obsessed with planing and preparing it as well. I use to cook for others a lot, and I never really saw it, but I was doing it for me, mostly. It just took me until now to really be honest with myself. Of course it was a way I showed love to family and friends.  The accolades from my friend about the meal I made felt good, but it went beyond that for me. I almost got high planning and assembling a special meal for myself or my guests. It was a way I could justify making a giant pan of lasagna. Or fill my crockpot with a Pork butt for BBQ, and of course all the sides that go with it.

This does not mean I will quit having friends over for dinner, it just means I am aware if it, and my weight loss efforts work best when I;

  • Plan my food for the day the night before or early morning
  • Be accountable by sharing it with someone
  • Stay in daily touch with people I trust for support, that are honest, yet nurturing

I plan my days food on My Fitness Pal, and sent it to my accountability friend, so if you are my friend on My Fitness Pal and it appears I have eating a days worth of food before Breakfast, don’t be alarmed! If you are not my friend on www.myfitnesspal.com feel free to be my friend, I am totalkathy .

Have a great weekend everyone! Be Blessed!

 

Big Mac’s and Bubble Bars

I woke up late this morning with a shadow of hopelessness hanging over my head. I talked to a friend on the phone and didn’t really tell her this, but it’s pretty amazing how God works in our lives anyway. She said to me “Are you going to get out of the house today?” I answered yes. When I feel this way, and honestly, most of my mornings I feel this way…..the last thing I want to do is get out. I made a nice bowl of Cream of Wheat, and thought about my commitment to my friend to get out a bit. I visualized myself having to tell her that I did not get out when she asks, and I don’t want to let her or myself down. I decided to just get dressed anyway. (bra and all) Then I decided to go. So I did.

This may seem very silly to most of you. But coming out of a 10 year fat coma, at this age, is not an easy task. There are still many physical obstacles, it hurts my back, hips, and legs to walk over 20 feet. I have many friends. But all my friends have moved on with their lives so I don’t really have anyone to just hang out with. I get terribly lonely. And those who tried to help me over the years, frankly, got tired of my turning down every invitation to help turn my life around. Why should they put through any effort if I wasn’t?

So I went to the local Hy Vee grocery store. I made it to the coffee shop where the clerk chattered away at me, while I fumbled with the debit card machine. I was mildly irritated. There are so many changes in the world since the last time I was really living in it. Debit card machines are one of them, combined with the fact that I did not have my readers on. I pushed my empty cart to a table, and self served myself at the coffee counter. I chatted a bit with a sweet employee I kind of knew, who is in her 20’s and called me “Hun” (I just HATE that) Then sat at a table, looking at my phone so I could become invisible. I wished I could just sit in a booth instead of the middle of the room, so I could be less visible, but my 377 pound body just refuses to let me. .

I had a busy little beauty shop in town for 24 years, until I simply got to fat to do hair anymore. But that was my identity in this community for years. Here I sat, feeling old, and unrecognizable. I saw folks I had not seen in over 10 years walking in and out of the store, and they all look so much older. It’s as if I got lost in time and got transported back into the future.

I took a short little walk around the store pushing a cart then went out to my car to leave. I was hungry, and drive through fast food is something I really really love. (don’t judge) I have been seeing those McDonalds commercials for the “Grand Big Mac” all week. I love Big Macs, and in my fast food eating days, I always ordered 2 because they were small. So the whole drive back home I was trying to justify in my head to go through McDonalds and order a “Grand Big Mac” count the calories and have it for lunch. When I got to the parking lot I looked the calories up on my phone. (another big change since I have woke up from my Fat Coma.) The “Grand” had 860 calories! My total for the day is 1400! So take away my bowl of Cream of Wheat this morning, this would push me over my calorie count. I looked up the “Mac Jr” it was 460 calories! HOLY COW! Since I am a master of rationalizing things I want to get away with, I started looking at calories with 1/2 the bread, and I even found a calorie count on MGP for a Grand Mac totally without bread, 580 calories, and of course the fat and carb count was off the charts! So I thought, my best option is a Jr Mac with no bread was 292 calories. If I order that and eat it, first of all it won’t be the same without the bun, and the thing is so small, it will be gone in 2 bites! Not a very good food value for my calorie budget, but I was already through the drive through, what was I going to do? I also do not have the money for this since my property taxes are due March 1st, I have been losing sleep over this, and even a Jr Mac would be a silly thing to spend money on. So, I backed out of the drove through, and went home.

I am still feeling very lonely today, and worry sometimes I do not have what it takes to take back my life, but I have more hope than earlier, so I guess it’s all about progress.

I have been making Bath Bombs and Bubble bars to sell for Valentines day so I can hopefully pay my taxes on time. If you want some, message or email me. I would appreciate it so much. I have some cute heart shaped bath bombs in a honey-oatmeal scent, some peppermint and cupcake scented bath bombs, and the bubble bars are cupcake scented as well. The are turning out quite nicely. Bombs are $4 Bubble Bars (solid bubble bath) are $6 and should last 3-4 baths, depending on the size of your tub. Shipping is extra. The Bubble Bars make TONS of soft bubbles. You can pay through Paypal. Thanks for reading and all your kind support.

More Progress

I am down another 3 pounds, for a loss of 161 pounds. I was starting to lose faith in myself. But I believe I broke through to another level of acceptance about the food I eat. I can see a big change in what I am eating and feeling about some of the foods I have eliminated from my diet. It’s sort of a relief.

I have not been writing as faithful as I would like because I feel if I don’t have good news I sound like I am whining or rationalizing my food plan. And you know, sometimes I am. I am very good at honestly believing my excuses. Some of them are valid, but still excuses. There is a very fine line between complete blatant lying and extreme self care and coddling to the point of not owning responsibility for the scale not moving. I know this about myself, if I give myself too much mercy, I will start wallowing in it. That is how I gained so much weight in the first place and ended up at 537 pounds laying in my bed all day for years. It happens so slowly and gradualy you do not realize it until you feel you are past the point of no return.

Sometimes I think its easy to rationalize being sloppy with portions and what food I eat because I never ever eat cookies, brownies, ice cream, Pizza or fast food. I can get rather smug about it. This is the most dangerous denial I can be in, because I can talk myself into being a victim and not own my part.

I am making bath bombs to sell to friends. I am a bit short of the money I need to get my property taxes paid by March 1. So I am trying to earn it. So if you want some beautiful smelling bath bombs to put in or tub, or give someone for Valentines Day, let me know. I will be posting pictures and prices soon. So far the ones I have made are pretty cool and really fizz up. They smell wonderful, Orange Dreamsicle, vanilla, Musk, Lavender, and a fresh Cotton Scent. I am going to make some Bubble Bars too. They are solid bars you can crumble up and put in your bath water for bubbles. I’ll be back in a few days with pictures!

 

I get by with a Little Help from my Friends

I ate last night. I stood in front of the fridge about 2 AM and ate a cheese and ham wrap, and a huge handful of granola. There I said it. This is where my biggest struggle lie. The other struggle is in portion control.

I knew I was in trouble last night, I wrote a post in my Facebook weight loss group that I could eat the pictures off the walls. I got some support, I couldn’t sleep, and I cried out to God to please take away the strong urge to eat. I got up to pee, and walked straight into the Kitchen. I had failed to put the hamper in front of the doorway to stop me and make me think. I have tried and tried to find the answer, “Why did I have such a strong urge to eat?” What is it that needs to be fixed? I will be 60 this year, and that is almost 60 years of struggling with binging and being overweight. At 4 years old I was taken to at weight loss Doctor. It was 1961, back then doctors gave you pills, or Speed, being the street name. I remember at 4 years old taking a black and white capsule that was actually speed. TO A 4 YEAR OLD! I remember being awake all night, my Mom sitting up with me in the living room, she, asleep on the couch, me, a 4 year old so wound up I was scribble coloring in a color book with so much fury I could not possibly even try to stay inside the lines.

Am I broken forever? When will I get relief? I honestly do not believe surgery is the answer for me. My head is much fatter than my body, and I know I would be one of those weight loss surgery people who melts chocolate to pour down my throat to digest it easier. I am an expert at getting in extra calories. I have the skill to pack a tremendous amount of calories on a buffet plate, yet have it look like half as much. (You can hide a lot of mashed potatoes under a slab of ham) I can binge on anything, I have actually binged on oatmeal!

Once I can quit feeling sorry for myself and quit being a victim, I see a woman who has successfully lost 169 pounds. I see a total change in my eating behavior, in-spite of my occasional times of eating off plan. I see progress. I see a level of maturity I never had. I am a better friend, and better at handling my life.

I get in trouble when I compare myself to my friends who just made a decision to eat healthy and never looked back. Those folks are a mystery to me. Will I ever in my lifetime reach that level of abstinence? I don’t know. But perhaps God is using my flawed openness to be approachable to someone who needs hope. Perfect people are not very approachable. I want to always be a welcome place to run to. So I guess perfection may not be in God’s plan for me. I am broken, and will always be a bit broken. But broken does not  mean unsuccessful, or worthless.

My keyboard on my computer had one key missing. It is broken. When I saw the missing key a while back, I was so upset. My beautiful Macbook was flawed! How can I fix it? Where is the missing part? But now after a few months, I hardly notice it. In fact, it is part of the charm and character of my computer that had given me so much. Had I been so upset about this missing piece that I threw away my computer, and found it unusable I would have missed out on being able to write this blog, communicate with friends, and do that administrative part of the weight loss group I co-facilitate.

This is the same as my flaws, and mishaps. They are only small inconveniences, I learn to manipulate around them and in time, they add to my character. Sometimes we can fix it, sometimes we find a way to work around it, and sometimes others help us with the repair. Either way, it does not stop our progress or decrease our value.

Today is a new day, I actually woke up very late and had a late breakfast, so the food I ate early this morning I tracked on todays food diary. I weigh Tuesday, I hope this does not affect my weight. But if it does, I’ll work around it and get by with a little help from my friends.

4 pounds down!

I broke my long 3 month plateau. I lost 4 pounds this week. I’m telling ya, I was losing faith in myself.  But the biggest think I learned about myself in this long 3 months, is that the little things count. I know, I know, I know! Weighing and measuring my food, drinking water and exercise only count when we do it daily. I thought I was doing pretty good, but in reality, I was cutting a lot of corners. Is all it takes is a few extra pieces of cheese stuffed in your mouth while you are cooking, and all that tasting, and you can quickly eat 500-1000 extra calories before you even get to the meal. When I cook I often fudge on the portion. Something that is meant to be 8 servings suddenly becomes 4. I almost wish I could say I ate a chocolate cake or drove through Dairy Queen, but that stuff isn’t my biggest problem, it’s the bites and licks, and nibbling in front of the fridge at 2 AM.

I’m not a big salad eater. But I ate salad. I had all the stuff on hand, but it takes time to make a good salad. I have to drag out of the fridge a little baggie this and that, wrap back up the rest of the avocado, tomato and red onion. And once you are committed to having the stuff for a salad on hand, you have to commit to eating it more than once. But there is something therapeutic about chopping the veggies, weighting the amounts, and assembling this masterpiece. It’s self care, and slows you down a bit to really enjoy what you are eating. And after you finish eating, there is no guilt. It also takes longer to eat a salad than to wolf down a cheeseburger.

I now weight 378 pounds! I have a 159 pound loss. I’m still bigger than that football player years ago that was nicknamed “The Refrigerator”. Few woman would confess this. It’s not very feminine. But I’m trying to save my life here, not trying to fit into a pretty dress. I just want to have the stamina to shop at the mall again, go out with friends, and not be in constant pain. I need to say the number, I need to break through the shame that that number can bring if I let it be my identity. Secrets keep us sick.

Thursday is the 16th anniversary of my Moms death. I’m pretty sure I will be the only one who remembers. I miss her. No one has ever loved me that much since she passed. My relationship with my Mom was not always healthy. I have yet to know someone who has not had a little bit of disfunction in their relationship with their parents. But we came full circle. By the time she passes we were in a good place. My Mom had trouble letting me grow up. Probably because she was not all grown us either. She was sometimes emotionally needy. But she was a giver, and loved deeply. And she genuinely loved everyone. If you were her friend, you were friends for life. You never left her house without a gift. She loved giving gifts. One of the most beautiful things I remember about her ability to give, was a breakfast we had in a Hardee’s down the street from my Beauty shop. It was a cold winter day, My mother was a very brittle diabetic and the cold was so painful for her. But that day, she saw a lady come in with ragged clothing and no coat. When we were ready to leave, she went to the counter, gave the employee her coat, and told her to give it to the lady after we were gone. It was a personal sacrifice, but she did it with so much grace, and without tooting her own horn. The woman’s dignity was important to her.

I use to attend Weight Watchers, she was my biggest supporter. When I got my first cell phone I would call her after that Saturday morning weight in and report my loss. She and my father loved to go out to breakfast on Saturdays with Bert and Gerry, two of their closest friends. She would immediately convey my loss, and they would all celebrate while I heard on the phone. Oh how I miss being cared for and loved that much! Today, had she been alive, I would have immediately called her, and she would have been thrilled. She never ever gave up on me. Never!

God doesn’t give up on us either. Success is not measured when the road is easy, but when we blindly move forward and trust, regardless of how many times we stumble and fall.

 

 

Transparency

Being transparent and honest, and writing a blog is a two sided coin. My last post had several folks concerned. I even purposely did not post on Facebook that I had a new entry. I just didn’t want to appear that I was milking sympathy, and to be honest, I was a bit ashamed. I remember hitting ‘publish’ thinking maybe I should not post it. I’ll end up with people on my doorstep that what to fix me. But I am glad I did.

Sean called me, (the dear friend I co-facilitate the weight loss group with) offering a generous offer. He said he would take over the group for the next 8 weeks alone, so I could just be a member and get all my wheels back on track. My defensive response was, “Oh, so you and Coach Gerri have been talking about me.” I was not really being as snarky as it seems.  but being needy, and weak and having friends rally around trying to think what to do with me, feels weak. It threatened the few things in my life I still have control over. But it was that very control that was so self distructive. It is so hard to be a leader and still save myself.

I had this same sort of struggle 20 years ago while I was marketing tool for Richard Simmons products. I specifically remember the morning of January 1 of 1998. I was in Philadelphia getting ready to go on QVC with Richard that morning. I had been on New Years Eve the night before on live TV celebrating the new year pitching his products. It was glorious, I was that moments “Golden Child, in that bizarre world of Richard Simmons. My friends and family were watching me on live television all over the country, there were friends, fans and staff of Richard Simmons all over the place, and I was the star (only in my own mind of course) The pressure was enormous, and I am so ashamed, I did not handle it well. I went to my room about 2 AM, and had a deep craving to binge eat. I had been at at party right after the show with all the staff and friends of Richards and there was plenty of healthy food, but I never ate a thing. I never binge in front of people. When I got to the room, I binged on all the snack food in the mini bar fridge. QVC and Richard’s marketing company were footing the bill, but I can only imagine what the cost was. That mini-bar snack food is very pricy. I went to bed in a fog, and woke up the next day in a fog with wrappers strung around the room.  I had to get all dolled up to be on the air again by 9:00 AM. I felt like such a failure and hypocrite. I had only gained back less than 10 pounds of the 200 I lost, but it may as well have been the whole 200. I knew deep within, I was spiraling, and I had to keep my secret, because too many people depended on me for inspiration. The pressure was enormous! I couldn’t break free from my shame to ask for help. Today is different, when I seen I may be in trouble I catch it before it becomes too self destructive.

I have put in place an extra amount of support, and surrendered to doing what I can instead of what I should. It’s no secret that exercise or just movement is one of my biggest struggles. So I have decided to walk around the local grocery store 3 times a week. I have not  been in a grocery store in at least 7 years. My groceries get delivered. My friend Pat and I went there and is all I could do is walk up and down the produce isle at first. I was kinda sad I couldn’t do more. But my friend Jordan, who has lost over 160 pounds assured me my stamina will come back quickly. So I will be walking again tomorrow. I have an exercise ‘thingy’ my friend Pat gave me to use between the walks at the grocery store. The bonus is, the store has a coffee shop and I get a cup of coffee and a little socializing afterwards.

I believe I have a small degree of Agoraphobia, Fear of Leaving the House. I did not want to admit it to myself, let alone my friends, but as I got fatter and fatter and never left home, when I did make an attempt it became harder and harder to go out. Then the mobility became an issue, and a deep fear set in. My brain thinks of things you could not possibly imagine. Being fat in a skinny world is hard enough socially, but physically is beyond explanation. Chairs with arms, the walk up to someones home, across a parking lot, steps, being winded, the pain in my whole body, and knowing if something happened to me like a fall, I could badly hurt myself. And then there is the fact that I have no living relatives who care to be part of my life makes me even less apt to venture out or take a risk. This also makes me feel unloveable, and not worth much. So, laying in bed watching TV was the only activity I had for years. And of course binge eating. It was the only thing that did not give me immediate pain, but the after effect left me with a pain so deep, I couldn’t save myself.

I am rising above all of this. It is no surprise losing over 300 pounds were going to have some bumps in the road. But I’m doing it! The humility and shame have been the hardest part to break through. But I believe I am  not alone. Many of you reading this may be in the same place I was in April 2015, 20 months ago. If you can identify with any of what I am saying, the first thing you need to do is complete honesty and transparency. I am talking about a bare naked honesty that will have you shaking in your boots. The biggest part of this kind of honesty is being honest with yourself. Shining light on our flaws, fears and shame disintegrates it. And you may find out in the process that your situation is not as unusual as you think. There are many of us.

 

Too tired to fight

Happy New Year! I am hoping the coming year will be one of the best ever. But I am really struggling today. My self esteem has had a bit of a hit the last few weeks. I feel like I am spinning my wheels. I can’t get that scale to move. I am questioning my ability to actually have a happy life someday. Am I only fooling myself?

I have also felt misunderstood and not very loveable. It’s probably the holiday season. I have done much better this year than in the past but still struggling. Today was harder than Christmas Day. It’s hard to see so many happy families while I am alone. I need to stay off Facebook. I try not to feel sorry for myself, but sometimes I am not as strong as I want to be. I am paying the price for my bad choices in the past. Yet have to figure out that I am worth saving, in order to move forward.  Ok this is going to sound so immature, but I am going to say it anyway, “What is so wrong with me that no one wants me in their life?” Romantically or even as friend or family?  It feels my whole life has been either being a caretaker or servant, or alone. Who would ever want me to be a part of their family? Was my mother the only person who has ever had me on the front burner of her life? Am I really that pathetic? Oh I get those invitations to be included from well intentionded friends. But you and I know the truth, I am not really part of their family, It just feels less guilt for them to say that. People feel sorry for me and I hate that. This may sound bitter, but every time I trust, I get let down. I’m not trying to milk sympathy, I’m just tired of trusting. No one will ever love you like family other than family, and I have none. it’s like a child that knows better than to stick her hand in the fireplace, but she keeps doing it expecting different results. What is my true value?

I was told today that I am a drama queen. That really hurt. I questioned if my feelings have any valitation. Am I just an attention whore? Why can’t I let things roll off my back and not take it personally? I am ashamed being so thin skinned. How do people call themselves Christians knowing I am dying here? Rotting in this house. I have family who are in the church whenever the doors are open, but choose not to include me in their life. I have made some awful choices that I am very ashamed of. I did a bad job of taking care of those relationships many years ago. I have not treated everyone with the kindness I should have. This is the repercussions of it all. I guess I am getting what I deserve. Why do I hear about the mercy of God, yet feel so shut out by those who claim to know Him best? I’m just so tired. I’m not sure how much fight I have left. My hope is fading.

Two of the biggest human needs are to have a sense of belonging and a purpose. I am questioning both of those things today. Where do I belong? And what is my true purpose? Is this something I need to experience so I will be able to help other out of this self destructive thinking? Does God really care about me?

when I finally get it together, regain my health, and quit feeling sorry for myself, will I be to old to be of use? I have watched everyone live their lives around me while I just stood frozen in time. Fear and a lack of self worth have paralyzed me. The only relief I get is binging. When I am not binging, and I am not, this is what happens. Everything just comes to the surface and the feelings become larger than I am. I pray they pass.

No one talks about these feelings. It is simply too painful to say or hear. But if I don’t, they stay buried deep inside me destroying me from the inside out.

Maybe I will wake up tomorrow with a different outlook, but for today, I am too tired to fight.

Merry Christmas!

 

Merry Christmas everyone! I want to thank each and every one of you for all your support and encouragement this year. I am far from a perfect roll model. Sometimes I get into comparing myself with others who seem to breeze through this weight loss thing, and I can really beat myself up mentally. It baffles me how some people can just decide to lose weight and breeze through it. I am forever studying those folks and trying to find that common thread, I have yet to find it.

I have only lost 1 pound in the last 6 weeks. It’s been tough emotionally. It makes me question my ability, and if I can really ever beat this. I have tried several things to shake this up. Like, spreading out my food more evenly throughout the day, lower my carb intake, even putting a hamper in front of my bedroom door at night so I do not night-eat. Some has been effective, some not so much. The night eating is much better. I have a friend whom I speak to every night before I go to bed, we are supporting each other through this. I never feel judgement from her, and we are painfully honest with each other. We always end the conversation in prayer, taking turns each night. I can not begin to express how much it means to me that we can pray together on the phone and have such deeply honest conversations. My friendship with Liz has been my lifeline.

I went to church last night with my friends Ken and Linda. It was good. I’m having a big struggle with all the changes in the world ever since I started getting out and about. My church has always been an anchor I believe I could rely on. But time has changed all of that, I feel insignificant and invisible. I have been very critical and sometimes sarcastic regarding the changes in the church these days. Some people take pride in their sarcastic humor, but its a very bad sigh when I get that way, even tho sometimes it can be very funny, it is usually deep pain coming out of me sideways. I kept my expectations and critical spirit in check last night and I ended up actually enjoying the service. I prayed that God would give me a sweet spirit and let all that irritated me roll off my back. It was really hard to do at first, but I left the service with a grateful heart. Ken and Linda came over afterwards and we had oyster stew.

I was invited to my friend, Juli’s house for brunch today, but the weather was really weird. It was down poring and thundering, on Christmas Day! In Nebraska no less! That’s a first. I was really worried about the drive over there and possible ice, Catastrophizing things as I do, (one of my many character defects) I visualized myself in a ditch alone on Christmas morning with no one to pull me out, so I stayed home. Now I kinda wish I had gone, the temp never went low enough to freeze. Fear stops me from doing a lot of things. I was really beating myself up about that today, which turned into me crying and then wallowing in self pity, when my friend Liz called me. I know God whispered in her ear to call. She gently reminded me that I was ok, and I can get myself out of the weeds once again. So I did, and decided to blog and get my head sorted out.

I have been avoiding writing here because I have no good victories to share. But you know, I would rather be real, than write a blog that says only what I think people want to hear. Recovering from a life time of Morbid Obesity is messy. And it will continue to be messy. I have no instruction manual on how to do this perfectly. It’s painful, lonely, and it’s scary, and sometimes I struggle. But it is also full of hope, second chances, finding true peace, and personal growth. I have come to realize, it truly does take an army to lose over 300 pounds. But maybe, just maybe these honest posts will someday help another person who is on this path. Please don’t give up on me. The fact that I have managed to lose 157 pounds and stuck with it this long is far from failure.

I am looking forward to 2017. I believe it will be the best year ever. And it can be yours as well. Never give up on yourself. Stay strong and build an army of support around you. Then be brave enough to be “Bare Naked Honest”.

Speaking of support. Sean and I are starting our next weight loss support group on January 2. What a great way to kick off the New Year. it’s an 8 week session and the price is only $120. We offer support and accountability and the members of our groups have had great success losing weight. Here is the information if you are interested.

 It’s going to be a great year! Here are the links to sign up. 
Here is the link to the Monday Night group ………….http://totalkathy.com/?event=monday-night-group-january-2-2017
Here is the link to the Tuesday night group …………http://totalkathy.com/?event=tuesday-night-group-january-3-2017

Here is the link to the Tuesday One on One PREMIUM group……….http://totalkathy.com/?event=premium-group-january-2-2017-800-pm

Kindness

 

 

The world and social media is a lonely place for someone who is alone over the Holidays. I, am alone over the holidays. I just wanted to take time to share something deeply personal to me. And I hope it creates an awareness for those of you who have friends that are alone this time of year, and an opportunity to bless someone. I am not writhing this to milk an invite, I have a place to go this year. I was going to write this on a Facebook page but realized it was not an appropriate place to share what’s on my mind.

My first Christmas after my husband died, and, after all those who I loved had died as well, was one of the hardest times in my life. My husband died in January, so I spent that year bouncing around like a pinball in a pinball machine. I clung to everyone who was kind to me that year, too tightly, being a victim. Every Holiday was hard, every birthday was hard, then came Christmas. I made the huge assumption that those friends who were in my life at that time would surly invite me to their home for Christmas. After all I had been included in Memorial day, 4th of July, Labor Day and even Thanksgiving. I grew up in a home where my folks never considered blood a prerequisite for family. I can hardly think of a time when we didn’t have some displaced friend around over the holidays. But that Christmas I learned we are not all the same. And perhaps having your 500 pound friend sitting in your lovely decorated living room among your family, was not something that you wanted to happen. The friends I counted on that year, became radio silent. I was alone all of Christmas eve and day. The fact that there was no one to even send a sympathy card to when I died was haunting.

I am weeping as I write this, and I have this debate going on in my head as to what I want to say. There is a part of me that is still hurt and even resentful of those who I felt should have been there for me that Christmas and were not, but I have come to realize most of us are just doing the best we can. The whole point of this post is to create awareness and help spread a little bit of Christmas spirit, in places you may not be aware of, not to throw anyone under the bus or gain pity. Most of us at some point in our lives face something devastating.

I was kind of blindsided when I realized I was not getting even a “pity” invitation,  so that Christmas Eve was tough. I  was questioning my value as a human and if God really did care about me. I remember crying and eating junk food all evening. The more I cried the more I ate. The more I thought about how alone I was the more resentful I got. Then I decided to go for a drive and look at Christmas lights, I got out to my garage and shoved my 500+ size body into my car and just sat there and wept, feeling so ashamed of who I had become. I must have sat there for 20 minutes trying to  muster up the courage to end my life that night. I had the garage door shut, and my hand on the key. I thought, “that will teach them, wait till they find my dead body here a few days after Christmas.”  But I just couldn’t do it. I did not have the courage, but even more than that, in that moment alone in my dark garage on Christmas Eve, I knew I was worth saving, and there was value and purpose buried somewhere. So I got out of my cold car and went to bed. I got through the next day somehow. I’m sure I was either sleeping or eating the whole day away. The memory of that day is blurred.

Today I am still alone, but I am in a better place. I DO have a place to go this Christmas, and I feel hope for the future. I no longer wallow in self pity or carry around resentments. When the resentments start to rise, I list all the things I am thankful for.

If you have a friend who is alone, let me tell you what meaningful things you can do for them. The deepest  need of a single person is a longing to belong. The basic human need is to have purpose and to belong. Some single people feel it too awkward to be included in someone else’s Christmas traditions. We long for the days we had out own traditions with our own loved ones who have passed. But invite them anyway. Even if you are sure they will not come. Just an invitation makes us feel loved. Offer to pick them up. The hardest part for me, being single is going and driving someplace alone, particularly on Christmas. That alone time in the car and coming home to an empty house is haunting.

One huge thing you can do is offer to go to their home and decorate, and when the holiday is over, go there and take it down as well. Bring them a poinsetta. Or even a wreath for their door. It does not have to be a huge decked out Christmas tree. The best part of the decorations is the family decorating the tree together, and the nights when the house lights are down and the Christmas lights twinkle. Some remnant of this can mean more than you could ever know.

If they don’t want to come over for Christmas dinner, bring them a plate of food later in the day and check up on them. It does not have to be a long visit. In fact we singles are use to being alone, but a visit makes us feel cared for. If you know of a special treat or tradition in his or her life, find that out and bring it to them. And let them tell you the story about what that tradition is about and the memories attached to it. You can not imagine what a ring of potato sausage or some Bondost cheese means to your Swedish friend. Find out one thing that is from their family traditions and you will be sure to bring a smile on their face.

Another thing you can do is to pick them up and bring them along to a Christmas Eve service at your church. Or ask them to come with you to your child’s Christmas program at school. Even if they are not your faith., ask them anyway.  I love a Catholic Mass on Christmas Eve, even tho I am not Catholic.

Gifts are nice but your company and presents mean more. It cost nothing to be a kind friend.

It hard to be so lonely while the world is stressing out about how they are going to find a parking place at the mall and maxing out their charge cards.

My situation is far from unusual. Lonely people are not all homeless, or old widows. In fact, most of us will be in this position at some point in our lives.

So, this Christmas, love someone who is alone. Be kind to those who the world considers unloveable. and remember the best thing you can give someone is your time and kindness.