In my kindergarten picture, I was skin and bones. In my firstgrade picture, I was a fat butterball and battled a weight problem for the next 54 years. As best I can remember, I worked with 21 doctors, dietitians, weight loss “experts,” and I have been on virtually every weight loss program. Initially, I had success but would hit a plateau. All the professionals accused me of eating more than I should or eating unapproved foods. Not true. I ate exactly as I was instructed. Professionals’ inability to help me break through the plateaus eventually led to my giving up. I resumed old habits and ate my way to 425 pounds. I had been blessed with relatively good health until 2013 when my blood pressure, blood sugar and other numbers started to enter the danger zone. My doctor said, “If you don’t do something, you are headed for trouble.” Since every diet had failed me, I swore I would never “diet” again but would exercise off the excess weight. 

In 5.5 years, I managed to lose only 86 pounds. I desperately needed both knees replaced. No surgeon would touch me because of my weight. I investigated gastric bypass, even though I said I would never have the surgery for four reasons: 

  1. If I didn’t change what I did or fix what was broken in my body, it wouldn’t work. 
  2. I would have to live on limited food intake, and the truth is, I like to eat. 
  3. I would have to take supplements the rest of my life. 
  4. Nearly everyone I have ever known who had gastric bypass regained all the weight, if not more. 

I ran into a friend, a fellow lap swimmer, who I hadn’t seen in nine weeks. Her body shape had changed dramatically. She told me about the SHAPE Program, but I was not interested in another “diet.” 

When my health insurance refused to cover gastric bypass, I chose to see Dr. Heather Elton. She explained that my body was riddled with inflammation and said I needed to adopt an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. Honestly, it sounded like quackery, but I was desperate. 

After my first couple months on the SHAPE Program, I saw an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. I had lost 104 total pounds, 28 on the SHAPE Program, and while I was hopeful, he said, “Go home, lose another 130 pounds, and come back and see me.” 

I hadn’t even lost 130 pounds. How on earth was I ever going to lose another 130? I was devastated and resigned myself to spending the rest of my life in a wheelchair. 

A couple days later, I had my weekly appointment with Dr. Elton. She assured me I would lose the weight. I whined constantly for the next couple months about not losing enough pounds until she threatened to come to my house and confiscate my scale. What I didn’t understand then, but came to understand after attending a Warrior conference in Alsip, IL with Dr. Todd and Linda, is the SHAPE Program is not a weight loss program. It is a health restoration program. As I sat in that conference and heard the stories of incredible healing from 67 other Warriors, I walked away with a totally different perspective. 

As a single person with no children, I had recently become disenchanted with the benefactor of my estate, and when I returned to my motel room, I wrote Dr. Elton a lengthy email and committed my estate to training practitioners across the state of Nebraska and helping people with limited financial resources to lead a healthier lifestyle. When I returned to Lincoln, I discussed the tests Dr. Frisch said women should consider having as they age with my practitioner. Dr. Elton recommended a micronutrient test to assess how I was absorbing nutrition. The results were shocking. I was not absorbing protein properly, I was severely deficient in five vitamins and six minerals, and was borderline deficient in another vitamin and five other minerals. She put me on supplements to address the deficiencies, and I finally began to lose a continual amount of pounds per week. 

I remember saying to Dr. Elton during my initial consult, “I’m going to be on Phase I forever.” She smiled and said, “Not forever, but for a long time.” Honestly, the next 22 months blew by. Just 11 months after starting the SHAPE Program, my surgeon scheduled my first knee replacement for February 15. Two months later, I had my second knee replacement. I have gone from bedridden in February 2018, to walking 18 holes of golf a day by October. As I write this testimonial, I am sitting in a condo in Kauai, Hawaii after hiking, swimming in the Pacific Ocean, climbing mountains and enjoying other activities I could never have dreamed of doing eight months ago. 

My orthopedic surgeon is now referring patients who need to improve their health before surgery to Dr. Elton. My personal physicians now admit they did not know how to help me and are also referring patients to Dr. Elton. So many former students, parents, colleagues and fellow gym friends are now on the SHAPE Program because they have watched my transformation from 339 pounds to 170. I am off all prescription medications, I no longer require a CPAP machine, my eye pressure has dropped from 16/17 to 13 in both eyes, and I am now growing new toenails on toes I have not for years despite using topical ointments and taking pills. 

I cannot express enough how grateful I am to Dr. Todd, Linda, Dr. Heather Elton, Natalie, Abbie, Ashley, and everyone else who works behind the scenes at SHAPE Central. You have all been a huge part of my journey back to health. I thank God every day for you all and my SHAPE family. 

While I didn’t intend to share this until January, while in Hawaii, I planted this seed of thought for everyone on the beach: