Monday, August 27, 2012

Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition - Lessons From Sally the Surfer Girl!

I missed this episode this first time it aired because of the Olympics...but I'm so happy I was able to watch it tonight.  I learned several valuable lessons from Sally that I will use in my own journey.

Sally is 45 years old, which makes her one year younger than me.  A lot of times she mentioned to Chris and his wife Heidi (who also helped train her) how hard it is to get back into shape when you're older (which it is!) but she never gave up.  She struggled a lot, falling short of her first three goals for the year.  Still, every time she failed or fell short, she got back up and kept on going, pushing herself to do better and reach her final goal.  First lesson: You are never too old to be who you want to be and reach your goals! 

She still lost a lot of weight, even though she didn't hit the particular numbers that were set for each weigh-in.  In fact, she visited the doctor who said she had gained a lot of muscle - and her body fat percentage had dropped quite a bit.  She certainly looked slimmer, going from a size 22 to a 12.  Second lesson:  The number on the scale isn't the only measure of your progress.  If your clothes are way too big, you've lost inches, and your muscle mass has are definitely doing something right.  Fitness is not a particular number set in stone on the scale. 

When Sally got started, her husband didn't seem all that supportive.  He would complain that she had to work out too much, and when they went out to dinner he insisted on eating all of her favorite fattening foods in front of her.  He didn't really realize how hard this journey was for her and how his actions affected her progress.  Once Chris arranged a meeting with him, Sally's mom, and her best friend, she was able to let them know how much she needed their help and encouragement.  They all told her they were on her side, and things started to go a lot better after that conversation.  Even Sally's adorable son told her she looked like a princess, because she was pretty and strong!  (That's the kind of princess I like...both beautiful AND strong!!!)  Third lesson:  If you feel you're not getting support from family and friends, ask them to help and let them know you need support.  And find other people who do support you and can relate to what you're going through.  You'll be surprised at how much better it will be if you just ask!

Sally also used pictures and thoughts of her former fit self from when she was younger to keep her motivated.  I have those pictures around as well...I lost a lot of weight when I graduated from high school and kept it off for about ten years, and I refer to those often.  (In fact, one of them is up on my Facebook page so I can be inspired daily!)  She used to surf, and on this journey she was able to have a lesson with pro surfer Laird Hamilton as she was cheered on by his wife, volleyball player Gabby Reece.  She was thrilled to have a great lesson and can't wait to try other things she's always wanted to do.  That surfing excursion alone boosted her spirits and helped her get to the next level.  Fourth lesson:  Remember the times when you were at your best, and realize that with hard work and perseverance you will get there again.  Make a list of activities you want to be able to do again, or that you've never tried but want to.  (For me, getting better at tennis and horseback riding - and learning ballroom dancing - drive me to push myself harder.)  Think of your list whenever you're having a rough day and don't feel like working out or eating right.

Finally, Sally didn't qualify for the skin removal surgery at the nine month mark...but the doctor gave her a second chance to lose enough in the final three months to be evaluated again.  She started the year at 335 pounds, and finished at 197...losing 138 pounds total.  It was enough to get the surgery.  Fifth lesson:  If you are given a second chance, take advantage of it.  And if you want something badly enough, you will find a way to make it happen!

So I want to thank Sally for sharing her journey with us, through all of the many ups and downs.  The truth is, we learn just as much in the moments of struggle as we do in the moments of success.  And I will continue to cheer Sally on...because she is a true fighter!


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