Our Herbie of the Week, Pamela, came to me by way of another Herbie, Sheila, who Pamela credits the bulk of her success to. (WTG Sheila too!). What I love so much about this story isn't just Pamela's incredible progress (she lost 74lbs!) but how — with Sheila's help and love — Pamela got her health back. A true tale in the power of leading by example and building each other up to be our best selves (which I'm always trying to preach on HH!).
HH: Tell us a little bit about yourself — what's your story?
I am not sure where to begin. I guess it starts with a diagnosis I received many years ago — atypical hyperplasia, with a strong family history of breast cancer.
My doctor, who is a specialist in breast cancer, put me on a regimen of biannual MRI’s and also biannual mammograms. The past few years, my weight became a casualty of not handling stress very well. I chose a very unhealthy way to manage the stresses from work and family that were cropping in. Like so many others — I ate for comfort.
HH: Did your doctor ever talk to you about your weight gain and if it put you at a greater risk for cancer?
My doctor at first just casually mentioned my weight and the impact it had on my diagnosis and the future prognosis. I agreed yes, I needed to do something, but just didn’t take it so seriously that I made any changes. I kept thinking I would deal with it “eventually”.
Finally this past year as my weight continued to balloon, she said I increased my already high risk of cancer by an additional 40%. 40%.... that figure scared me. She also shared with me that a vegetarian lifestyle would also help lower my risk factors.
HH: I'm thrilled to hear your doctor recommended a vegetarian diet to you. Was the recommendation surprising to you? What did you think?
I had considered a vegetarian lifestyle before, so this news wasn’t totally foreign to me. So with constant “encouragement” from the personal calls from my doctor, I started on Medifast — with a vegetarian slant — in May. Sheila provided me with lots and lots of resources, information and most of all, lots of encouragement as I made some dramatic changes in my life. I honestly don’t know how I could have done this without her. My transition was slow at first. And I will say I still eat fish occasionally.
HH: And the results?
So today I am 74 pounds lighter than I started out — with 9 pounds to go to goal.
HH: That's incredible! What does your family think about all of these changes?
My husband has been wonderfully supportive and encouraging too. And he is ever so slightly joining my vegetarian lifestyle. I am finding new things to cook that he will enjoy as well. And he has cut out red meat from his diet entirely. So slow progress.
I owe soooo much to Sheila. Wish there was a way to thank her adequately.
(Update 8/26/2013)*Note: I asked Pamela if she had any additional pictures.
I avoided the camera intently when I was so overweight. I am the one who is BEHIND the camera. But I do have a few from 2012. LOL. But now, as you can see, I am happy to be in front of the camera. My husband did a photo shoot of me to celebrate my successes. Now it is fun to see how far I have come. I am still working on losing my last 10 pounds. I continue to reap the health benefits of my lifestyle changes including more energy, fewer digestive issues, and just feeling mentally healthier overall.
Thanks so much for all you do. Oh please give credit to Sheila for me too. She made such an amazing difference in my journey with her encouragement and most of all her knowledge and being willing to share that with me. What a wonderful mentor and encourager.
I hope others are encouraged and can benefit from these stories. This lifestyle change is literally a matter of life and death!!
Thank you Pamela (and a big hug to you too, Sheila!)