Thursday, September 26, 2013

Happy Birthday to my sister!

If we are to succeed in reaching our goals in life, we need people to support, encourage, and share in our journey. I have been blessed to have several, (well if I count all of you, several hundred!) people who daily give me inspiration, motivation, prayer support, and mostly unconditional love!  I’ve written about many of them, but there is one that has been one of the greatest blessings in my life, and today she celebrates her birthday. I’m speaking of my sister, Kelly!


Kelly is 6 years younger than I and has been a source of joy for my brother and I, as well as the rest of our family. We had our typical sisterly issues….getting into my stuff, wearing my clothes, etc….but I cannot imagine what my life would be like without her!


Kelly and I have struggled with weight issues our entire life. There were times when one or the other of us would lose weight, but mostly, we’ve both been heavy since birth. The weight seemed to bother her more than I and she was always trying a new diet, losing and gaining weight. I, on the other hand and with the exception of a few diets here and there, just didn’t really care! She was successful in losing weight many times, and just as successful at gaining it back. That is, until now!  Today we are both working hard to maintain a reasonably healthy weight and are enjoying a freedom we’ve never known.

I truly believe that I would not be in the place I am today if it were not first and foremost for God, but secondly, for Kelly!  Many of you know that it was after hanging up the phone with her on March 1, 2011, that I began my journey. She had called to tell me that she had scheduled weight loss surgery and our conversation became quite tense as I begged her not to go through with it. After all, she had lost about 100 pounds the year before on a milkshake based diet through Henry Ford Hospital. Unfortunately, when she went off the shakes, she gained her weight back, and in her mind, this was her last hope.  Perhaps for her, it was. For many others, perhaps even you, it is the right choice. Each person has to find the plan and make the decisions that is best for him/her, and having surgery does not make the journey any easier or mean that the person doesn’t have to work just as hard. It just means that he/she has decided to take that path.  For me, however, it was frightening to even think about it. I have never even spent a night in the hospital, so I could not imagine having major surgery like that…..WITHOUT AT LEAST trying on my own first.  Needless to say, I was very worried and could not bear the thought of something happening to my sister. Perhaps, I was even a bit jealous because I knew that she would get thin….probably for good this time! Still, I was scared and did not want her to go through with it.


SO….I hung up the phone….and said out loud “You little……, I’m going to show you!!!”.  Show her what?  I was 428 pounds and couldn’t even stand up long enough to brush my teeth.  What was I going to show her????  I don’t know, but at that moment, something clicked in my head and I have never looked back. You’ve heard or read the story… I started dumping soda bottles down the drain and emptied the sugar bowl into the trash.  From that very moment, everything in my life changed and my journey began.  My conversation with her was the final straw in a series of other conversations/experiences that had happened in the previous 6 weeks, but she was the last person I spoke to before changing my life.  Even if my journey was ignited by sibling rivalry, I will ALWAYS be grateful for that conversation with my sister.

She had the surgery a few weeks later and both of us have changed our lives completely and are on the same journey to wellness. Even amidst the competition of ‘who wears the smallest size”, she has taught me so much about weight loss.  She has been the one who has ALWAYS believed in me….not just about this, but about EVERYTHING in life.  She encouraged me when I went back to college; she helped me when I was unemployed; she cared for me in my illness and welcomes me into her home when I go downstate to visit.  A few years ago, when I could hardly function and would travel home for the holidays, she would go out of her way to make me comfortable. She’d carry all my stuff up the stairs, load and unload the walker and drop me off at the door when we shopped. She’d go out of her way to prepare my favorite foods, even though her family didn’t necessarily like that kind of food. She’d  haul my stuff, carry my bags, give me great hair products from her store, and mostly, she loved me….even at my worst when I couldn’t love myself!

It has been great to have my sister to share in this journey. She only needed to lose about ½ as much as I, so she was always a few sizes smaller than me.  She taught me about nutrition and encouraged me to try new recipes. She got me hooked on Greek Yogurt and protein bars, even though I wouldn’t even try them until I had lost 200 pounds!  She gave me 6 garbage bags full of her “fat” but my “I hope to someday fit into” clothes. Now, we could probably both fit into them together!  We’d talk, cry, and laugh about things along the way and offer each other tips.  Conversations like….”have you noticed that you can cross your legs now”…or “don’t your arms seem really long now” …or “you know, a jigglely loose skin butt looks way better than a fat butt” are typical. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without her! 

Kelly has been successful in losing her weight but like the rest of us, has to work hard to keep it off. I am so proud of her!  It was so fitting that she was the one that accompanied me to New York City when I went to appear on the Today show.  She may be younger than I, but she is way smarter than I, and dealt with all the details of traveling, navigating the city, carrying the bags, etc. on the trip. They should have put her on the show with me because she is a miracle as well!


Today, my amazing, wonder-woman of a wife, mother, career woman, friend, SISTER…..celebrates her birthday. It is customary for us to say “Happy Birthday” to the one celebrating, but really, the day she was born was a “happy birth day” for my entire family!  I don’t get to see or talk to Kelly as much as I’d like to, but I hope she knows that I am truly blessed to call her my “sister…and friend!”


Who is/are that person/persons that are the “wind beneath your wings?”