Friday, August 30, 2013

Back to the Beginning... My Story and How Operation 2013 Began

When I started this journey in January 2013 to shed the fat suit forever, I began with the help of my husband Brett, my sister Laralynn and my brother-in-law Justin. Justin was taking a class at Utah Valley University for exercise science. We became his project for the class. At our first meeting to discuss the project he had us set some goals and write down our primary motivation for starting a fitness plan.

Here's what I wrote....
My primary motivation for beginning this journey is...
1. I want to be able to enjoy my life instead of sitting on the sidelines.
2. I want to be able to play with my nieces and nephews.
3. I want to be able to walk on my vacations and not have to sit down every few minutes.
4. I want to be able to shop at regular stores and have stylish clothes.
5. I do not want to have diabetes.

My physical goals were: Stand to do the dishes without my back and hips aching, fit into my red dress, get up and shower and do my hair every day, exercise 5 to 6 days a week so I can walk on the beach with Brett in Hawaii.

In February, Justin had us define success in regards to the fitness plan we were working on that would end in April when his class was over. I want to share what I wrote. It's a little long but it tells my story and I think it will help you to see what continues to motivate and help me on this journey I am on. Here's what I thought on February 21st, 2013.

"I have thought long and hard about this since Saturday when Justin gave us this assignment. I have discussed it with Brett, Laralynn, my Dad, in prayer and in my head. I have tried to keep an open mind and not try to please others.

If I were to please Justin, (at least the one in my head) I would say "Be able to run a 5K in April/May." To please my sister Jan, "I wouldn't limit my thinking but I would see myself completing the 5K." And the list to please others could go on. So how do I define success? Let me start with a little back story.

For most of 2012 I have lived a completely sedentary life. I couldn't walk around a store to do my grocery shopping. I had to use a motorized scooter. I couldn't walk from my bedroom to my bathroom (which is only 5 steps away) without being winded. I had gradually gained weight until I topped out at 402.6 lbs on January 22, 2013. That day I went to the doctor and just walking from the waiting room to the chair where they could take my vitals (blood pressure, heart rate, weight, etc) my heart was beating incredibly fast. I could hardly catch my breath. At that appointment I kidded the doctor about putting me on phen/fen or some other diet pill so I could lose weight. She told me about a new drug but she didn't know if my insurance would cover it. She did a bunch of blood work and sent me home. I received a letter in the mail from her on January 26th. The blood work showed that my A1C was a 6.9 and that I had diabetes. She told me to up my Metformin (which had been previously prescribed to treat PCOS) and to come back for more blood work at the end of February and then make an appointment to see her in April.

Needless to say I was scared. I couldn't speak as I was reading the letter. I had always thought I was going to be the only morbidly obese person that didn't get diabetes. WRONG! The next day my sister Laralynn went to see our sister Jan and Justin. He told her about this exercise class he was taking and how he needed to develop an exercise program for someone. Laralynn told him about my diabetes diagnosis. Justin decided if he could get his teachers approval then Laralynn, Brett and I would be his subjects for a paper and presentation he would present at the end of the class.

The very next day January 28th we started doing exercises while sitting in a chair. I could only do ten minutes. We sat in the chair and lifted our legs and used soup cans as weights. We also changed our eating habits. We cut the portion sizes down and ate half a plate of vegetables. After just a few days I started feeling better. On Saturday February 2nd Justin met with us. He had us walk outside. I could barely make it around our cul-de-sac and down three houses on our street. My hips & legs hurt and I was out of breath.

We continued with our chair exercises and changes in our food intake and on February 6th we went for our first weigh in. I had lost 10.4 lbs. I was gaining endurance. I could walk further. I could run up and down our stairs (winded of course) but I was moving.

So I would first define my success as making the decision to start. All I believed I could do was sit on a chair and do arm and leg exercises. My heart was pumping and I felt alive again. That first step of doing something to get my heart rate going was a success. Choosing to eat more vegetables that first week was a success. Those two things along with drinking a lot more water is cause for celebration. I am up to about 120 ounces of water each day now. The weight loss proved to me that even couch potatoes can have success if they just move their muscles a little bit and change their portions sizes and eat more vegetables.

The week of February 10-16, 2013 brought more success. We started walking around the hallway of our church (we have an oval hallway like a track in our church building.) I did 15 minutes on the Wii Biggest Loser Full Body Workout and walked 30 minutes one day. Remember earlier I said that I hadn't been able to walk around a grocery store? Well, February 9th, 2013 I walked around Sam's Club, Macey's grocery store & the library. Success again! I could now do my own grocery shopping. That success was just from starting with chair exercises and adding a little cardio. Amazing! Maybe not to the average athlete or fitness guru but to me that meant independence, freedom and knowing that I wasn't standing on the sideline of my life anymore. I was actually living it.

This week also brought more firsts for me. On February 14, 2013 I took the garbage cans to the middle of the cul-de-sac without gasping for air. Before I started exercising I couldn't do this without having to stop halfway, gasping for air. I decided that I wanted to see if I could walk to the end of the street. I put my head up, looked down the street and focused my attention on the house at the end. I started to move. My heart rate was up. I stayed focused on that house and made it to the end. I was so excited and so I turned around and focused on the house next to mine and I made it back. I had done what I thought was impossible. I had will power and determination. I got up early again the next day and decided to do it again. This time when I reached the end of the street I decided to turn left and walk the distance of two more houses and then back to my house. Another roadblock pushed out of the way. I did it the second time.

Then the day of our second weigh-in came. It was Saturday morning, February 16th. I had lost another 6.4 lbs, a total of 17.4 lbs in 3 1/2 weeks. But the weight loss isn't my only measure of success. Justin had us define our primary motivation on our first meeting. I defined it as this: 'I want to be able to enjoy my life instead of sitting on the sidelines. I want to be able to play with my nieces and nephews. I want to be able to walk on my vacations and not have to sit down every few minutes to rest. I want to be able to shop at regular stores for clothes. I want to be able to wear stylish clothes. I do NOT want to have diabetes. So what will success look like for me at the end of this process in April? I want to be able to play volleyball with my nieces and nephews. I want my A1C to be under 6.0. I want to complete the "Color Me Pink 5K Run/Walk on March 23, 2013 in Lehi, Utah. I have signed myself up for it. I want to start training to run a 5K in 2014.'

Justin had told me that if I wanted to commit to my fitness goals then sign up for something. So I did. My amazing sister Laralynn walked this 5K with me even though it wasn't her goal. In the weeks that followed this email on February 22, she got up every morning at 5:30 am before going to work to help me prepare for this race. We completed the race in the snow and freezing cold in 1 hour and 35 minutes. We had amazing supporters Stephen Tefteller, Brett Mackay, Jan Tranchell and her girls. They cheered us on, brought us water, walked with us and encouraged us. The organizers of the race kept up the balloon arch at the finish line and stayed until we finished to hand us our medals. It was the most amazing thing I had done up to this point in my journey. I had set a goal and finished it. I overcame the mental hangups and completed the race. This event changed my life. It has helped me to keep going on this journey to shed my fat suit because I know I can do hard things. How do I know this? Because I have done hard things before and lived.

I hope that by starting this blog I can share my success, failures, stumbling blocks and provide you with a place to share your story, too. This is a lifestyle change for me that has it's ups and downs. Sometimes I am afraid of success. I am afraid that no one will like the new me. I think "What if my cheerleaders drop out, move or become the nay-sayers saying "Give up. Quit, you can't do this. Why are you even trying. You will never reach the top, you're a loser." I want to yell, "NO, this time is different! I will succeed. I can make it up this mountain. I can move the boulders or crush them if I need to. I have my sledgehammer firmly in my hands. I have earned my sledgehammer through hard work. I am learning to love myself. I love myself enough to continue on this journey to a new and improved me. It's not just about the weight, it's peeling back the layers and layers of protective armor that have been part of me for so long. This is my time to shed the fat suit FOREVER. Get off the sidelines and join me on this journey we call life. See you on the trail to the top of our mountain. I will be the one cheering you on and pulling you up when you stumble. Love, Karalee


  1. Karalee, I love this blog. Thanks for sharing and for being such a inspiration!

  2. I am so proud of and amazed by you, Karalee! You are an inspiration! I know you can and will do anything you set your mind to! :)