Thursday, May 14, 2015

Body, Mind, & Spirit Transformation...Gwen's Life-Changing Transformation PLEASE READ!

There are not enough words or feelings to describe this one-of-a-kind woman…Gwen has a special place in my heart and God truly connected us for such a time as this years ago. Gwen and her husband Mark were my youth pastor’s the second I turned 12 years-old and I was allowed in the youth group. They even married my husband and I. Gwen has been one of my prayer warriors from over-coming neglect and abandonment issues to overcoming panic and anxiety. She is truly like a mother to me and I cannot imagine my life without her. In November of 2014, I started talking to Gwen about my challenge groups and prayed she would join…and she did. And her life is forever changed. Below is her story…in her words.

Here is Gwen’s story. Please take the time to read this…it will be LIFE-CHANGING.
My name is Gwen. I am a daughter, a career woman, a wife to my husband, Mark of 24 years, and mother of two inedible young men, Elijah 19 and Noah 17. I love my life and I LOVE my family.
My occupation is an interior designer. I also love to teach, write and empower folks to be the best they can possibly be!! I believe the best for everyone.....but like a typical career woman, wife, and/or mother, I put everyone ahead of me and served myself leftovers. I knew God's word said, "Love your neighbors as you love yourself". (Matthew 22:37-39) but I would tend to love myself last. This is a terrible trap. So my health story was not too far different than most.... I rushed, I ran, I said yes too much, and I microwaved my food and my schedule thru life. I didn't exercise much and I ate what I thought was a decent diet....FDA approved, of course. I'm not blaming the FDA for what I ate, I chose to eat it but I thought if it was on the grocery store shelf and "approved" to had to be ok. So as I was "taking care" of everyone else, I was just sadly teaching others how to make poor choices as they watched me. When "moments" came and I tried to take care of myself, I would rush to join weight loss programs, and go to the gym. I typically spent more money on the gym membership than going there. Sadly, I only found myself on a viscous cycle.... you know the one…
UP and then DOWN...
UP and then DOWN...
UP and then DOWN...

I would gain and lose weight like I was on a ride at Six Flags. (Insert your favorite theme park here) My point is, I did "diet-programs" and found short term success only to gain the weight back after going off the program. And then, add life circumstances to the roller coaster and my life felt like I didn't have control anymore but that the proverbial roller coaster did. My life was controlled by my poor diet and life circumstances. What I thought I had "all together" was just a smoke screen. I might have looked like I had it all together on the outside but the inside I was being destroyed like wood in a fire. 

Is it any surprise that I found myself dealing with anxiety, feelings of depression, health issues, AND marriage issues. In 2008, with all the above mentioned issues, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure (180/101) and was put on HBP medication. My heart was having a hard time keeping up with all the demands I was putting on my body. This was NOT my first health scare but this one was significant. I had watched both my parents deal with the same heart, health issues. They both had open-heart surgery 4 MONTHS apart in 2001. I remember that year standing over their hospital beds making an inward vows that I would never allow my children to look over at me in ICU with heart monitors and tubes keeping me alive. HOWEVER, in 2008, being diagnosed with HBP, I was heading down that very path. Sadly, it still did not occur to me OR my parents that a steady poor diet of processed food and sugars was contributing to a very unhealthy me. I swallowed my high blood pressure pill and my defeat every morning thinking this was just my lot in life. My parents had HBP....guess I will too. I believed a lie instead of letting my circumstances empower me.... to do better.... to learn.... be educated on what you put into your mouth!!! Or that what I was putting in my mouth had any effect on me. Hippocrates said, "Food is thy medicine and medicine is thy food".

With this difficult season, I began to work hard on my spiritual life to help me stay grounded. I worked hard on my mental life which seemed to be linked together with my spiritual growth but for some reason I didn't connect my physical life to the other two areas. Never mind that God wants us whole.... body, soul and spirit.

*body (physical)
*soul (mental)
*spirit (our spiritual life)

I have since learned that if one of those areas are "out of balance", then it's ALL out of balance. If you take a three-legged stool and cut one of the legs off, it will be difficult to sustain balance on that stool and it will be impossible to sit on it. So for me..... I needed balance and I needed rest!!!! I needed to work on my physical life but didn't have a map on what that looked like for me, YET!! Unfortunately, there are moments in life that fortunately cause us to STOP and RE-EVALUATE.

For me, it was after the death of my father in December 2013 (unfortunately) that I began to process (fortunately) that we only go thru "this life" one time. It didn't happen overnight. I grieved the loss of my dad... for a year. I managed thru the first father's day, his birthday, and a year full of holidays without him. My diet and how I cared for myself wasn't at the for-front of my mind that year. I really concentrated on how to make it thru each day without hearing my dad's voice say, "Hey girl". However, almost a year after my dad's passing, I do recall a faithful meeting with my Coach, Ali Tessitore. She asked me if I would join her on this journey she had traveled. She explained how much better she felt and assured me that I would love it. Even though I did not make the connection that night, I knew things needed to change. I asked a lot of question that evening and about 6 weeks after that meeting, I joined her group. This was just the beginning of a wholeness that I had not conceived. I was on my way to being whole....body, soul and spirit. I was going to find rest and balance that I so yearned for.

I remember signing up, I remember cleaning the refrigerator and the pantry out. I remember going shopping that first week and it taking twice as long looking for the UN-processed good stuff,  I remember the feelings of being overwhelmed that first week trying to prep and get the food all ready, and  I remember thinking of all the "stuff" I was going to be "giving-up".

It's been 4 months now of exercising, going to the store, prepping my food and eating clean. I can tell you what I thought I was "giving up" has been my greatest blessing. I have given-up a lot... a lot of leg cramps, a lot of laziness, 4 sizes in my clothing, a lot of pounds on the scale AND MY GREATEST VICTORY....MY HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE MEDICINE. Yep.....4 months of eating clean, exercising, and loving myself first, swallowed up 7 YEARS of being on HBP medication. Truthfully, it was 3 months. I went to my doctor (for all things) to get a refill on my medicine. I had, at this point, lost 18 pounds and lowered my BP....too low as a matter of fact. To my delight and my doctor guarding my process, she recommended that I come off my medication for 4 weeks. I was scheduled to return in 4 weeks with completed blood work and a physical only to hear my doctor tell me, "I am setting you FREE". I understand those words came out of my doctor’s mouth that day, but it sure sounded just like something Jesus Christ said to me!!!


So what I "gave-up" 4 months ago, I have gained SO MUCH MORE in return. I would definitely say, this challenge group has changed my life. I love my coach and the other ladies who are on this journey with me. I haven't met all the ladies personally yet but love them. I know if there is a day that I struggle with my choices, this group is there to pick me up.

My favorite part about the challenge group is.....the accountability. I think of scripture that says…A cord of 3 strand is not easily broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12). I love the accountability, I love the honesty of each lady in this group. I love when I am not feeling strong, someone in our group is and encourages me. I love that I am not on this journey alone!!! This is my favorite part of the group. I'm getting whole and I'm not alone. We share our shortcomings and we celebrate our victories!!!

Would I tell someone about this group?
ABSOLUTELY!!! Over and over again. The "beauty-full" thing about this type of it’s NOT only on the INSIDE, BUT IT SHOWS ON THE OUTSIDE. People ask me all the time now what I am doing different. It is a privilege to tell anyone who ask. Some people say, "I cannot give up this or that" ... I tell them, "change your mind, and change your body". What do you have to lose???

Gwen, I am SO SO SO proud of you! You have completely changed your life...body, mind, and spirit and you will FOREVER be my role-model!

Love you so much!


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