By Member of the Month
We are excited to announce Pat as the Member of the Month for May 2019 from our Burnaby location. As you read Pat’s story, we are certain she will inspire you with her enthusiasm, energy and commitment!
Morbid obesity is a killer. But long before it kills your body, it kills your spirit. When the LIVE WELL Brentwood staff first asked whether I would agree to be their Member of the Month, my instinctive, internal reaction was to say “oh, hell no!” The thought of sharing my story, much less having a picture taken for public distribution, was so far outside my comfort zone that I could not even imagine agreeing to it. Yet, here I am. And here’s why.
I have a deep, personal aversion to scrutiny. More accurately, I am afraid of being looked at, don’t like to draw attention to myself, hate being singled out in any way. Apparently, this is a common feeling for trauma survivors and it is very difficult to overcome. This is compounded, as most obese people will tell you, by literally thousands of fat-hating, fat-shaming incidents over four decades of my life while living in a thin-obsessed society that devalues people who are different in any way. So, I agreed to write this piece and to be nominated as LIVE WELL Member of the Month as a definitive way of saying, “Screw that! No more!”
When I first dragged my body into LIVE WELL Brentwood for the intake assessment on August 3, 2018, I was walking with difficulty and struggling to breathe. One month into what would become a 3-month battle with antibiotic-resistant double pneumonia, I was physically at one of the lowest points in my life. But even without the pneumonia, my body was in rough shape – dangerously overweight, heavily burdened by severe asthma, severe arthritis, chronic pain, high blood pressure and high blood sugar. I was still running my company and still showing up as a parent to my two beautiful teenaged daughters, but otherwise struggling to enjoy life. Struggling to even care. It was time to make changes.
I have a long history of weight gain and weight loss, but the gaining has always won. By last summer, I had given up both any interest in and any hope of ever losing weight again. But I knew I had to do something, if not for myself then for my two daughters who still very much need their mom. At about the same time as I decided to try exercise first, instead of going directly to the starvation-diet route again, I saw an ad in my Facebook feed that LIVE WELL was opening up a clinic in my neighborhood. I had looked at LIVE WELL as an option a few times in the previous couple of years but the clinics were so far away that I knew the distance would be a barrier to me fully participating. A clinic just three blocks away was inviting and exciting!
I still laugh when I think about my LIVE WELL Brentwood assessment appointment. Kim, Rokin and Darren were very warm and welcoming and the assessment wasn’t particularly demanding. But Rokin seemed to be very worried that I might lose my balance and fall, so through much of the assessment he was hovering close to me with his arms out as if to catch me if I fell. Now Rokin is a tiny little thing, probably no more than 140 pounds soaking wet. So, while he bravely hovered as if to save me from myself if needed, I spent the entire time thinking “Young man, if I start to topple over, you should RUN FOR YOUR LIFE! If you try to catch me, one of us will die and it won’t be me – at my weight, I’ll squish you like a bug!” ☺
I did not fall, of course, but I did come back to LIVE WELL – regularly, consistently and with increasing levels of comfort so that today I feel, for the first time in my life, that I actually BELONG in this gym. That increased comfort in an exercise facility is perhaps the biggest victory over the past seven months, but there have been many victories! There has been the scale victory – 80 pounds lost so far thanks to a ketogenic diet and regular exercise – but the non-scale victories are even more important. They include normal blood pressure, normal blood sugar, greater mobility, more confidence, more contentment, discontinued use of painkillers, decreased use of other medications, asthma symptoms dramatically improved. My journey is not done but I am well on my way and have total confidence that I will make it back to full health. Which leaves me with only one more thing to say, and it is thank you!
Thanks to the wonderful trainers at LIVE WELL Brentwood – you have all been wonderful – but especially to Darren, who has served as my rock for the past 7 months. Always there, always kind and caring, always patient and understanding, consistently willing to adapt my program as needed, always as happy and proud of my victories as I am – perhaps even more so. Thanks to the owner Kim for building such a great team and a welcoming environment, and to Ryley, Liz and others for their constant enthusiasm. And thanks most of all to my 4:30 p.m. exercise buddies – to sweet Sharon for her great sense of humor and infectious laugh, to Kim who is incredibly strong, focused and determined, to Kathryn, Cathy, Rosa, Nancy, Trish and all of the others who show up every week and join me in my quest for health. You all inspire me to be better!
What I like about the LIVE WELL model is that it is holistic – it promotes healing the whole person and encourages us to work on every aspect of our health and wellness. My successes over the past seven months are not the result of exercise alone. The ketogenic diet has played a crucial role in my rapid weight loss – it’s not for everyone but it works for me. Paying more attention to my emotional health has led to reduced stress and greater happiness. The 3 to 4 workouts a week at LIVE WELL are helping my body heal and get stronger everyday and giving me hope that I can live long and live well.
If you are new to LIVE WELL and feel a little bit like a fish out of water, please just hang in there. There were many times in the first few months that I wanted to throw it all down – to walk away out of embarrassment because I was so limited in what I could do, out of frustration that things weren’t moving fast enough, and a sense of being incompetent in the gym. Those messages are mostly in our heads so I recommend that you put your heart in charge and know that you are worth the effort, that you can do this, that you WILL do this.
Thanks everyone; I’ll see you on the treadmill! Wait – what? Pat’s on the treadmill now? Oh hell, yes, I am!
Thank you to Pat for sharing your incredible experiences. The LIVE WELL Community is honoured to be apart of the journey alongside with you.