Tammy Helfrich

Life begins right where you are.

LifeChangers – A New Look

LifeChangers

It’s a series about people just like you and me, who decided to do something different.

They decided to change their life, or the lives of others around them.

They are inspiring.

They are making an impact right where they are.

They are passionate.

They are full of life.

And they are willing to share their story.

Some people are inspiring simply by watching them. This week’s LifeChanger definitely did that. She was learning to get healthier and lose weight. She changed her life. And in the process, she inspired people without ever trying.

Meet my friend Terri. Two years ago, she had a routine doctor’s appointment. Her doctor was reviewing her family history. Heart disease. Breast cancer. The list went on. What he said next flipped a switch in her. He said, “If you don’t start taking care of yourself, guess where you’ll be in 10 years?”

Terri – 2009

She knew she had to lose weight. In the past, she had tried every diet imaginable. She could drop the weight, but it never stayed off. This time, she decided it would be different. She joined Weight Watchers the next day. The day after that, she started walking. She walked one lap around a parking lot and was winded.  But the next day, she walked again. She kept walking 6-7 days per week, and continued to increase her distance. She followed the Weight Watchers plan consistently. She went to her meeting every week, and continued this for a year. And guess what happened? She lost the weight. 56 pounds to be exact.

I love Terri’s story because she didn’t go on a crash diet, lose the weight quickly, and gain it back. Instead, she chose to change and get healthy. She learned that simple lifestyle changes are the key to getting healthier. And guess what else started happening after she found herself walking five miles consistently? She realized she could do more. She started running. She ended up running a 5K and The Shamrock Shuffle that first year. And she loved it!

Terri has been a huge motivation to me. She has inspired me and encouraged me to embrace my own healthy lifestyle. She is a big supporter and helps keep me accountable on my own journey. Some of the best advice I have gotten has been from her.

Here are some strategies that have worked for her:

  • Find a program that works for you. For her, it was Weight Watchers. She liked that she could eat anything she wanted. She avoided things she knew she would have a hard time resisting. The points program worked for her.
  • Accountability is important – she had several amazing cheerleaders who encouraged her, celebrated her, and supported her. She also went to her meetings every week to keep her accountable.
  • She doesn’t deprive herself. If she wants a brownie, she will take one bite, and throw the rest away. She didn’t do this in the beginning, as baked goods are a downfall for her. But, that has helped keep her in check.
  • She asks herself – Why do I want to eat this? Am I bored, stressed, hungry? This has helped her realize her emotional eating patterns.
  • Exercise – she suggests to find something that you like. Does it feel good? Do you like doing it? For her, walking and running are exhilarating. She gets excited when she can push herself farther and finish a new distance.
  • Celebrate milestones – She rewards herself for milestones. She always uses non-food items. New clothing is something that she likes. Be sure to celebrate when you accomplish something new.
  • You’ll have bad days – Just learn to get up and try again.
  • She admits that eating out has always been a challenge. It can be hard to determine the point value, and there are not many healthy options. She chose to eat at home as much as she could, and then order as healthy as possible when eating out.

It was incredible to watch Terri’s journey. Every week, she looked different. Her body completely changed, and her outlook did too. She shared what she was doing when people asked. She motivated so many people. She’s heard people say that she helped push them to start running, or to start Weight Watchers, or to start eating healthier. That is always really encouraging to her.

She had reached her goal weight. She looked and felt good. She was continuing to run. Then people starting saying to her, “You look great! You’re not going to keep losing, are you?”, or “You’re done now, right?” or “You don’t possibly have any more to lose!” And she listened. It was an unconscious decision, and only something that she now realizes she did. She stopped going to her Weight Watchers meetings. She thought she’d be fine.

She gained back 17 pounds in the next six months. Most people probably didn’t notice. She still looked great. And she didn’t allow herself to get discouraged. But, she knew she could do better. She hadn’t been journaling or keeping track of her food as often, and had started eating things that she normally wouldn’t eat. She realized that she had let other people’s opinion determine what she should do. And she wasn’t happy about it.

So, in January of this year, she went back to Weight Watchers. Within a few months, she was under her previous goal weight. She’s now adjusted her goal weight down some, and is continuing on the program.  She’s lost a total of 67 pounds now, and only has 7 more to get to her goal. Wow!!

Terri – 2012

Terri knows that a healthy lifestyle is a journey. It has taken her two years to get where she is. She did it the right way, only losing 2-3 pounds per week. She knows that everyone wants instant gratification, but it just doesn’t work that way if you want lasting lifestyle changes.

She’s continues to run, and is currently training for The Rock and Roll half marathon in July. She continues to be inspired by the people who have started doing something because they saw her taking action. That really motivates her.

She continues to inspire me, and I hope she has inspired you.

She is a LifeChanger.

2 Comments

  1. Tammy, thank you so much for putting on paper what I have had in my heart. You are such a talented writer and you inspire me just as much as I inspire you. Love you friend!

  2. I am putting this blog entry in evernote! Terri has done an amazing job and there is much to glean from her perspective. Terri – thanks for sharing your story!

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