Friday, March 12, 2010

From 500lbs to Fit and Fabulous with Amy Barnes -- Guest Post by Cheryl Russell

Unfortunately, I was not available to attend the program we offered this week with Amy Barnes. Cheryl Russell, our Convention and Meetings Director and the team leader of the Healthy Divas our leading Biggest Loser team, agreed to introduce Amy and write this post. Thanks Cheryl!

Janet asked me to be a guest blogger about yesterday’s presentation by Amy Barnes. First, I need to acknowledge Janet and ASHA for providing such a great program for staff – The Biggest Loser, has not only helped many folks get on track with healthy eating and exercise, it has also brought about a new team spirit that we have missed for awhile.

Amy Barnes is a young woman who weighed 495 lbs 4 ½ years ago. She didn’t share with us her current weight, however, she did say her goal was to fit into a size 10, which I’m sure she has and maybe a size 8! She simply told her story, which is much more than a weight loss story. She shared with us a timeline of her life and weight gains – pregnancy weight that was never lost with her two sons, divorce stress weight gain, and then an abusive relationship. She felt the only thing she could control was what she ate and found comfort in food. This part of her story was hard to hear – she was in and out of a relationship with a man who beat her. At one point she had gone back with him after he promised to change. During this period she left her sons with him while she went out of town for a few days. When she returned the boys were gone, they were with her mother because child protective services removed them from the home. Her boyfriend had beaten them. While telling this part of her story she became emotional and held back tears, and I noticed others in the audience physically upset. She was almost killed before she finally ended up in a woman’s shelter and set out to change her life. Her goal was to get her sons back and become healthy.

With great humor she then described how she began to lose weight and exercise. Most of us could relate and laughed. She lost the first 100lbs exercising in her living room and walking around the block because she was too embarrassed to go to a gym. She described the approach she takes with her clients, which she did for herself.

1. Identify Root Cause of over eating
2. Setting Expectations/Managing Goals
3. Empower & Educate
4. Monitor/Accountability

She went into detail explaining the four parts - some things that stood out for me: draw a picture(s) of why you think you eat, set realistic goals and once you reach them set another; find a support group; know it’s not easy and it’s hard work; there will be set backs but doesn’t mean you stop; you need to eat enough calories; and you might cheat and eat something that isn’t good for you but that’s ok – make it a cheat meal not a cheat day.

Amy also shared how faith in God helped her after turning her back on faith for many years. She told me prior to her presentation that she felt the work she is doing now is her calling and purpose in life. She shared with the audience that through her company – Inside & O.U.T. Fitness, if she can help people get on track and learn to exercise and eat healthy, then she is glad when they go on their own.

She was generous in answering questions, and the first one was about the abusive boyfriend and the hope he was in prison. The answer was no, he served about 90 days and once he was out called her every day for about 1 ½ years. She was frightened and would report the calls to the police who had a log on his calls. She wanted to end his control over her and had been trying to forgive him. Finally she answered the phone when he called, she said he was shocked she answered, and she told him that she forgave him the abuse to herself and her sons. He never has called again.

I asked her what O.U.T. stood for – “once upon a time!” I didn’t want or need any further explanation.

No comments: