For most of my life, I’ve battled with depression for various reasons. I’ve never had it easy, but I can say I have one thing going for me…I am an overcomer of adversity. I have proven this time and time again in many circumstances, except for the one aspect of my life that I struggled with most for way too long…loving myself. I can’t say that I’ve ever truly loved myself very much and there’s no denying that it shows in how my body has responded to my choices. However, if I had to pinpoint an exact time in my life that my weight became an issue, I would have to go back to 2006 when my first son was born. My final weigh in before delivering was 225lbs. Two years later as I delivered my second son, my final weigh in was 265lbs. From that point, my body has gone through hell. Any weight that I managed to lose would come right back because the methods I used were what I now consider “quick fixes.” For 7 years now, I haven’t been able to accomplish anything with long term results as far as my weight goes. This has only lead to more misery and self-hatred.
Now, are you ready for the good news? I’m finally on an amazing path to overcome this. Let me rewind and explain.
I met my boyfriend Ronnie in April of 2011. It was undeniably love at first sight. I had never met a more accepting, sweet, and just plain adorable man in my life. There was just something about him that I literally could not ignore. There’s no denying he felt the same about me. Both of us were recently divorced and ready for big changes. The beginning of our relationship was pretty typical. Head over heels in love and just had fun doing anything as long as we were together. At first, we were very motivated to improve ourselves, to be the best we could be. This is when I first heard of Bill Phillips after Ronnie and I watched the original Body of Work, a documentary chronicling the results of competitors in Bill Phillips’ first fitness challenge (which was on VHS!). Ronnie had followed Bill for years and idolized him and his work. Of course I was interested and inspired as well…temporarily. I didn’t research anything deeper because looking back, I just don’t think I wanted to change. Deep down I didn’t feel that I believed I could conquer my health and be happy. I was very held back and limited by my past. Although I agreed whole-heartedly with the message Bill was giving in the documentary, I just didn’t think I had what it took to be like “those people, those winners.”
Over the next year, when the consequences of our past poor lifestyle choices revealed themselves, things got really difficult. We discovered that you can’t necessarily live on love alone, but it definitely helped get us through. Together we have endured the pains (and joys of course) of life and I am so proud to say, the things that would have broken most relationships have only made ours stronger. Over time depression, poverty, stress, worthlessness, and hopelessness caused us to resort to eating away our pain. So of course, what happened? WEIGHT GAIN!
We both had gotten to a point of pure disgust of ourselves. We enabled each other’s bad food choices and justified each other by saying, “I love you no matter how much you weigh.” Which is true but not necessarily a way to show love. Finally in April of 2013, Ronnie made the decision to change. He put Bill’s methods to work and his results were incredible, losing 45lbs in less than two months. I sat back eating away my frustration, hating myself even more because I simply couldn’t make myself do the work. He was getting better and I was, well, I was still destroying myself. Over and over Ronnie would design workout plans for me, prepare healthy meals, and giving me total support, but it would only last a couple days, “doing the right thing,” before I’d go back to my unhealthy ways.
Through mutual friends on Facebook I had actually become friends with Bill and his wife Maria. I read their posts about lifestyle changes, diet, exercise, mindset…but would always continue scrolling. In June, something caught my eye. BILL PHILLIPS SUMMER TRANSFORMATION CHALLENGE. The reward…MONEY! Something shifted in my brain. I was struggling financially and physically. Working insanely long hours in a warehouse, in constant pain from being overweight, and still barely able to keep my head above water. I decided right then and there that I would enter the challenge and win. I thought, if I win, I can fix two things I hate about my life. My weight and my finances.
I subscribed to Bill’s blog and finally began researching his methods to success. He gave 12 weeks to make the most incredible transformation. I asked Ronnie once again to set up workout plans and meals, which he was excited about. For three months, I didn’t give up! When I started the challenge I was 211lbs. I started doing Bill’s HIT weight routines and 5/25 cardio pretty much every single day. I kept my meals planned and squared away. Of course, people noticed my results. By the end of the challenge I was down to 181lbs. When I mailed in my results I kissed the envelope and said a prayer for the win.
I felt amazing physically, but I knew I hadn’t won the battle just yet. I still didn’t love who I was. The very next day Maria Phillips posted about a “30 day weight loss challenge, with incredible, but unknown, prizes for the top three winners.” How exciting! We had to send in a request to be added to the limited spots available. She chose 35 members and I WAS ONE OF THEM! All of a sudden, I began to feel validated. I thought, “Wow, Bill and Maria both know who I am, this is a big deal!” Anyway, for the month of September Maria posted daily workouts, meal plans, and mindset activities and 35 other people in the group showed unwavering support and love through daily posts as well. We became a family.
While the physical activities from Bill helped me change my body, the mindset activities in Maria’s challenge began to transform the inside. I’d love to share everything I’ve learned from these two with you, but I’d rather suggest that you go buy Bill’s books yourself. Both “Transformation,” and “Body for Life,” are incredible tools that everyone needs to own!
Moving on…as it turns out, I ended up losing another 19lbs in the month of September. When the winners were announced for Maria’s challenge, I was blown away. I had won! So far, one of the “incredible prizes” is a free admission to Bill’s Transformation Camp in Denver. The other two women, Pat and Susan will both be attending the camp on January 17,18, and 19th 2014 and it would be amazing if I were able to go, meet them and a few of the local competitors while I’m there, so I can personally thank them for helping me overcome something I’ve never been able to. To be invited to camp is an absolute dream come true but it doesn’t end there.
A few days later Bill announced the winners to his competition, and I won that one too! He decided that there were 5 different people who all deserved first place, and my name…Jenifer Lyon, Brazil, Indiana….was on the list! For the first time in my life, I did something that I considered to be “BIG!”
Ronnie was incredibly proud and inspired by me, which is the greatest reward of them all. He witnessed my struggle every single day. He knew what I had overcome. So soon as I realized that I won the challenges and a free admission, my mind immediately went to him. He deserves to go to camp just as much as I do. He has been by my side, pushing me, encouraging me, teaching me, doing the work right along with me, and if it weren’t for him, I would have never made it this far. I mean, he’s the only reason I even knew who Bill was. I also want him to be able to meet Bill in person, the man he has idolized for years. I feel that would be an amazing way to show him how thankful I am for his help and support. By both of us being able to go to camp, we are going to have the opportunity to learn “forever” life style changes, new workout methods, and be able to meet and thank the two people who made this all possible. Bill and Maria have taught me how to love myself, take care of myself, and how to live in sync with my true values and beliefs.
The only thing stopping Ronnie and I from attending camp is the money to go. With the camp being so soon, I simply don’t know any other way to come up with the amount we need for airfare, hotel costs, food, and other expenses that might occur once we are there. This is where I am personally asking you for your help. Your donation, of any amount, will put us one step closer to being able to experience this amazing opportunity. The goal to cover expenses is $3000.00. However, anything over this amount will definitely be appreciated and put to good use. Thank you in advance for all of you who are choosing to make this happen for us. It means the world to us!