Hope is a Game Changer

I have a lot of details along the way that I want to share but I’m so excited to tell you all about February of 2015.  That month changed my life!  I expected change but I never expected the growth and the learning I’d experience.   Hope…it was a word that was back in my vocabulary.  But, not in the sense of “I hope I can do this” but more in the sense of I had restored hope and gotten rid of the hopeless feeling that once had wiggled into a real comfy little nook in my brain…in my life…in everything.


n. [hohp]

the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best
Other words that have become a theme in my day to day life are: 
I really had to learn to replace the negativity in my life with these new words.  But, I never would’ve understood or believed it had I not spent that month at Structure House in Durham, NC.  That month was going to to change my life more than I could’ve ever imagined as I spent the year prior saving money and planning my trip.
Several years ago I was watching an episode of Dr Phil.  It was a rerun…an episode about a young person that needed to lose a very large amount of weight and it was really a life or death situation for this person.  Dr Phil referred them to a residential treatment facility called Structure House by Wellspring.  Fast forward several months…maybe even a year or two, I don’t quite remember and I was watching this new show I had found on TV called Too Fat for 15.  It was a show about kids who enter into a residential weight loss program at Wellspring.  Wellspring….I had heard of that somewhere…but where?  I was so inspired by these teens that I googled Wellspring to see how much these programs cost.  Ahhhh, bummer!  These programs are for kids only.  Wait….they have an adult program.  It’s called Structure House.  Structure House?  STRUCTURE HOUSE!  DR PHIL!  I remember this!  So, I went on his website and searched and found it.  I need to go.  I need to be there.  Holy crap..this program is $12,000!!!!!  Nope, never going to happen!
I went about my days as usual…but each day that dream of Structure House would creep in at some point.  I knew I needed to find a way…but how?  I surely didn’t have $12,000.  I had a new business that was seasonal and a husband who made just enough money for us to scrape by.  Ugh!  I NEED $12,000!  So, I decided to at least call Structure House and request some information.  And, while I had them on the phone I begged and pleaded for any kind of discount they might be able to give.  Not so much.  A few weeks later, I called again and asked if I could set up a payment plan…maybe this would be my path?  No.  $500 deposit due at booking and balance due upon checking into the program.  Well shit!  Ok, are you suuuuure I can’t get some kind of discount?  Long story short, I eventually secured a 20% program discount.  Ok, awesome!  We have the price down to $9,600.  Eesh…where am I going to get that kind of money?
I decided to step out on a limb and share my story and my plea and take a shot at Crowdfunding.  I created a youcaring.com link and threw it out on Facebook to see what would happen.  I knew I’d be at Structure House…it was just a matter of when at this point.  Donations from friends and family started to trickle in.  I saved every penny I could.  In the meantime, I found this company called Beachbody.  I did the cleanses, drank the shakes, participated in the groups.  It was working!  I was slowly losing a few pounds.  I became a coach to try to help others but also to cover the cost of my own stuff.  I was trying to save money afterall.  I openly posted my progress on Facebook.  One day I received a message from a former co-worker of mine who had donated $20 on my youcaring page.  She very plainly told me that she wanted her $20 because she was paying for me to go to a program, not do cleanses.  I explained that I would be going to the program as soon as the money was gathered and that I wasn’t using that money for any of my cleanses, etc in the meantime.  She told me that I was scamming people out of money and that she had a friend with cancer who could use the money and she wanted a refund.  Now, don’t get me wrong…I was so grateful for every single penny contributed…every single one.  But, $20?  Really?  Do you think your $20 is “paying for me to go to a program” and that you’re really going to stick it to me by taking it back?  You can have it!  Oh and by the way, take your rude ass and find the ‘unfriend’ button.  Ok, I’m over it…
I had set a target to go to Structure House in February of 2015.  Once I  had the $500, I booked my dates.  Now I was on the hook.  I had to go at some point!  As I got closer, I realized that the full 4 week program just wasn’t in the cards.  There was no way the money was coming together in time.  So, I cut it back to 2 weeks and begged them to still allow me to use that 20% discount.  They agreed…I think they heard my desperation.  Ok, 2 weeks…I have that money.  I’m ready!
19 hours on the road, by myself…to Durham I went.  I arrived on February 1 and checked into the program.  I got settled into my private apartment and read through the materials I got at check-in.  That night at weigh in and orientation, I was scoping out the others in the group.  There was the girl that seemed to be about my age, this giant tall dude with a big beard and his momma by his side, an older gentleman and a thin woman (why was she here?  I later learned that to her the 15 pounds she needed to lose was as much of a mind fuck for her as someone who had hundreds of pounds to lose).  We weighed in, got a tour and all went back to our rooms.  The next morning this same group was placed at Table 1 for breakfast in the dining room.  Table 1…the table where lasting friendships would form.  Who knew???  Table 1…the table that would hold our secrets…our fears, our weights, our struggles.  Table 1…the table that would catch tears and feel our bellies shake as we laughed.
As our first couple of days went on, we went through blood work, scheduling classroom time for behavioral and psychological teaching, participating in gym time and fitness classes.  I decided that I was only there for 2 weeks and I needed to make the most of it.  I’d found myself spending 5-6 hours in the gym and filling the rest with my classroom time.  I was busy everyday.  I didn’t allow myself idle time.  If I wanted to sit around and relax, I could’ve stayed home.  3 days into the program I knew I needed to be there for the full 4 weeks.  The 2 weeks just wasn’t going to be enough.  I called my mom and told her that I need to find a way.  She offered a loan.  YES!  YES! YES!!!!!  I got the loan, extended my stay and I was on my way.
I worked with exercise physiologists, RNs, psychologists, nutritionists….we tackled this from all angles.  I learned how to identify triggers and to understand the emotional, psychological and behavioral aspects to all of this.  My time with my psychologist uncovered some things that were really bothering me…things I had tucked away and pretended didn’t matter…things that I had buried under food and pounds and pounds of excess weight.  My marriage…it came up over and over and over again.  It became a theme…so many things kept coming back to the unhappiness around my marriage.  I really hadn’t been happy for a couple of years but I tried to put on the show and act how I thought everyone expected me to.  We had different goals, different dreams, different everything.  Sure, he was a nice guy.  But, there was so much missing from the relationship.  I really started to see that moving on was probably going to be my best route.
2 weeks go by and I think I had spoken to my husband maybe twice in that time.  I was busy, I’d wake early, go to the treadmill for a bit, breakfast, classes, workouts, lunch, classes, workouts, dinner, class or workout, water volleyball with a group of others I had become friends with, maybe board games or cards after and bed.  Rinse and repeat.  I really had next to no contact with the outside world.  Afterall, I wasn’t pay thousands of dollars to stay up on the latest and greatest of Facebook. I was there to work on me.  Then I got a text from my husband asking if I was alive because he hadn’t heard from me.  So, I called him.  He went into a rant about how I was being selfish and that I hadn’t called to check on him and I was only worried about myself.  He then went on to accuse me of cheating.  *imagine the sound of screeching tires*  Excuse me??? He’s going to accuse me of cheating?  Let’s talk about the fact that he cheated on me at least once that I know of before we were married and at least once after!  I’m sure there were more—those were just the ones I caught.  Even through that, I remained faithful.  And, now I’m here, working my ass off and he’s going to accuse me of cheating?  Yep, that right there sealed the deal.  I spent the little free time I had researching divorce in Wisconsin.  I talked with my psychologist to find out how I could possibly handle this.  I knew without a doubt that I would be filing for divorce when I returned home.  What I didn’t know is that his obnoxious behavior would ultimately lead to me telling him over the phone that I was done and that we’d be filing when I got back.  Another story, another day.
Back to my program.  I was seeing the weight fall off.  I was motivated to push harder and harder.  I was starting to like myself again!  Then, one day, I was sitting in a body science type class that was taught by the exercise physiologist that was the head of the fitness team.  He as talking about metabolic disorders and insulin resistance.  Wait a minute…did he say insulin resistance?  What does he know about that? He had my attention.  Then he went on to talk about disorders like hypo/hyperthyroidism and PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome in women.  I swear the trumpets sound3b90d490f4775b787befdc6829f38a26.jpged, angels descended from the heavens and he stood there sparkling like glitter. PCOS? Insulin Resistance?  What could he possibly know about any of that?  No one has ever heard of PCOS…except for me and my doctor that diagnosed me.  So, I had to ask….he went on to explain insulin resistance and how it affects the body when we’re talking about weight loss.  
And, once I understood it.  Once I knew what that meant and how we can counteract it.  Hope crept in.  This was the beginning of it all.  I cried.  I told him that he had given me something I had lost so long ago.  Hope.  Here it was.  This was what it felt like!  Wow!  I get goosebumps as I type this now.  With this new hope came a new motivation.  A new desire to understand not just why we need to eat or exercise a certain way, but how our bodies respond.  And, I assure you, I will be sharing so much of this in my upcoming posts.  I went on to finish that program.  I gained so much!  No…not weight!  I gained new friends (and so many more than just Table 1), a support system, renewed confidence in my abilities, knowledge….wait…is this a glimmer of happiness returning?  Yes…happiness!  And as for what I lost…..”It’s My Loss” afterall….I lost 32 lbs in that month.  32 lbs in ONE MONTH!  So, I no longer can use that C word.  You know…the C word that is 4 letters and ends in NT.  No!  Not that one!  CAN’T!  Because, now I know that I CAN!
I went home, figured out what my new normal would look like and started the ball in motion to the next chapter.  When I would run into people I knew they would compliment me.  Of course it felt amazing to hear “you look great” and “wow, you look so good”.  I knew there was still such a long road ahead that it was hard to accept those compliments.  But, I learned to smile and say thank you.  Because that was how these people were cheering me on.  The one compliment I so willingly accepted because I knew it was true…”you look so happy”!
The moral of the story—don’t lose hope, my friends.  Once you lose hope you’re on that slope of giving up and finding all of the excuses you can come up with.  It’s amazing what we tell ourselves to justify our bad behavior.  Cut the bullshit and be honest with yourself.  You owe it to yourself!

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