Our guest Author Karen Hauserman writes about her journey. What follows is a struggle that many people have. She writes this to encourage hope for change.
Karen Hauserman – Weight Loss and Wellness Transformation
The Power of Plants – A Story of Successful and Sustainable Weight Loss and Wellness!
For most of my childhood and adolescence I was either overweight or obese, but it was when I crossed over into adulthood and started a family that the weight climbed and I soon became morbidly obese. What I didn’t know then; however, was how that increase in weight would affect me and how the end result of my actions would impact my life forever.
I was an outcast in middle and high school, often teased and bullied because of my weight. I never had a boyfriend as a teenager and didn’t get invited to my high-school prom. And while I did have a few close friends, who I knew meant well, I was tired of hearing “but you have such a pretty face.” More than anything in the world I wanted to lose weight and keep it off, but I just couldn’t seem to achieve that goal. I tried every fad diet imaginable, and while I did lose 10-20 pounds with a few of them I would soon gain it back with extra for good measure. I was so disappointed and depressed, and for the next couple of years I gave up trying.
After graduation from high school, I ended up going to school for myomassology (Swedish and shiatsu massage, craniosacral and myofascial release, acupressure, reflexology and polarity). This helped me understand the body’s ability to self heal, and encouraged me to look deeper into alternative methods for weight loss. Then when I was in my early 20s, I got a job as assistant general manager at a health food grocery store. I started eating healthier foods and taking supplements. and after only a few months lost 50 pounds. I was so excited that my self confidence shot through the roof. And soon afterwards I met the man I would marry. Before long I became pregnant, and gained that 50 pounds right back plus 100 more. I was devastated, but figured since I had a husband and a new baby it didn’t matter what I looked like. And unfortunately, that’s when I really let myself go.
Two beautiful children later, and a few years into my self sabotage, I was now (at over 300 pounds) morbidly obese. And, that number seemed to climb every day. Honestly, I was miserable. But no matter what diet I tried (and I’ve tried them all), I just kept failing. I simply couldn’t lose that weight and keep it off.
So I put all my energy into improving my career. I had transitioned out of alternative health, since I believed it had failed me, and went into the mortgage industry. I was able to work myself up the industry ladder, despite my failing health, but soon became bored. I wanted more out of life. I wanted to work in the medical industry, because I thought maybe I could find something that would help me and I would then be able to make a difference in the lives of others. So I enrolled in college and started a new chapter in my life.
But right after enrolling, I became pregnant with my third child. And while I actually lost 50 pounds with him, I gained it right back soon after he was born. So when he was only a few months old, I decided to get gastric bypass surgery. I was prepped and on the table (only five minutes from going under the knife) when my surgeon cancelled the surgery. He said it was because I was too high risk. I did everything he asked of me in preparation, including managing to lose a few pounds. But, he refused to proceed. I was so devastated, and felt so hopeless, that I started binge eating. Soon my weight ballooned to over 400 pounds. I couldn’t walk across the room without having to sit down to catch my breath. My back and knees ached constantly and stairs were not even an option. Plus my blood sugar and blood pressure were climbing. I was an out of control ticking time bomb. Fortunately for me, while I didn’t know it then, what seemed like insensitivity on my surgeon’s part actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise. He may not have performed my surgery that day, but years later I would realize he still saved my life. Unfortunately, for the next decade, I tortured myself and my body with the standard American diet. I no longer cared for my looks, or my health. I felt I was a failure.
Fast forward ten years, and I was close to graduating with my MBA. I had already earned an AASc in Orthotics and Prosthetics, had four years invested into Occupational and Physical Therapy training, earned a BASc in Healthcare Management, and achieved my Board Certification in Pedorthics. I felt like I was on the right path to career success. However, I was still miserable. My marriage was failing and I weighed over 400 pounds.
That was when the floor fell out beneath me. It was Black Friday in 2010. I stayed after closing to hang out with my friend Oscar, shift manager of the Starbucks in Atlanta. And as I got up to use the restroom before making the long drive home, I felt a sharp shooting pain in my left arm. It shot quickly up to my shoulder and neck, traveled down my back, and radiated around to my abdomen. Within seconds, I was doubled over in pain and on the floor. Oscar wanted to call 911, but I wouldn’t let him. I insisted I was okay, and about 10 minutes later got up to go home. Hunched over in pain in my van, I knew I was having a heart attack. But instead of going to the hospital I went home, took a couple aspirin and went right to bed without saying a word to anyone.
I woke up the next morning and went through the typical routine of making coffee, with a side of bacon and eggs. That’s when I stopped and said to myself…“what are you doing? You just had a heart attack and you’re making bacon and eggs?” I immediately dropped it all and retreated to my room. My kids looked at me like I was nuts and said “but what about our food? We’re hungry!” I told them their father could finish it. I wasn’t feeling well and needed to lie down. And I just lied there, staring at the ceiling, until I fell asleep. When I woke up I felt renewed…like God had reached out to me in my sleep and given me a mission to accomplish. And that’s when I vowed I was going to lose the weight once and for all, actually keep it off and get truly healthy. I had no clue how I was going to accomplish this incredible task, but starting on January 1, 2011 I was determined to make it happen. It would be my New Year’s Resolution, one I would actually keep. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, and God was giving me a second chance. Who was I to say no to God.
A few days later I paid a visit to the doctor who confirmed I had suffered a minor heart attack, had high blood pressure, and was pre-diabetic. In fact, after looking at my EKG, he asked me when the previous ones were. So apparently this was not my first. I was the perfect candidate for both a major heart attack and stroke, and I was running out of time to keep them from happening. Even more reason to make this weight loss and health overhaul happen.
So on Jan. 1, 2011, I woke up and began the first day of the rest of my life. I joined Planet Fitness, and with the help of one of their personal trainers dove head first into a strength training regimen. I couldn’t do cardio. Along with working out, I developed a dietary plan. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing at first, but through diligent research and pulling information from experts who resonated with me, I figured it out. I started by tracking Weight Watchers points, and logged everything that went into my mouth into a food journal. Then I switched to organic foods, taught myself how to read food labels, eliminated highly processed foods, and focused on whole foods with preference to vegetables and whole grains. I also did green smoothie fasts, with one being 3 months long, and went completely raw for a time. The weight loss was slow at first, but each time I tried something new the results sped up.
By the end of 2011, I had lost over 80 pounds. I felt great and my clothes were falling off me. In 2012, I decided to take it up a notch. First I went pescetarian, where I stayed for about 6 months. My weight loss was increasing rapidly. But because I was intrigued I decided to graduate myself to vegetarian. Well I was only there for a hot minute, when I decided to just take the leap and go completely plant-based. That’s when I lost the most weight in the shortest amount of time.
By the end of 2012, I had lost a grand total of 268 pounds! And I did it all on my own, without doctors and surgery or drugs, and even without a support system. I also reversed my high blood pressure and heart disease, stopped my pre-diabetes in its tracks and reversed its symptoms, reversed my thyroid autoimmunity that was masked for years as perimenopause, eliminated my constant joint pain, and even improved my eyesight. I was floored and felt absolutely amazing. I also had more energy than my kids who were in their teens and early 20s! I was, for the first time in over 25 years, able to shop off the rack. I wore jeans for the first time since I was a teenager. Oh what a feeling! But what really blew my mind was stepping my entire body into one leg of my old elastic-waist knit pants. Yes, that’s right…one leg! I cried and cried! I couldn’t believe I did it! Finally, I was healthy and thin! And for the first time in my entire life, I felt beautiful.
And now, ten years later, I have not only maintained it but am getting healthier every day. I’m an organic, high-raw, whole-food, plant-based, holistic health nut who ran a 6k and annually hikes 10 miles. I also love yoga. And even though I still have some loose skin, you couldn’t pay me enough to go back to my old self. I’m healthy, happy, and love the new me! And at 55 years young, I feel like I’m reversing the aging process. The journey has been and is a worthwhile one. I wish you all courage and strength.
© Copyright 2022 Karen Hauserman/Planted4Change. All Rights Reserved
Karen can be contacted via the link above. Please note that the views of our guest authors are not necessarily representative of Momentum and do not constitute medical advice.