130 POUNDS LOST
IN 6 MONTHS!
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SHARON
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My favorite nutrition program:
Looking for a job on Craigslist had become a daily routine.  As I perused through the advertisements that yielded no excitement for me, I stumbled across a posting that said if you were at least 150 pounds overweight and would like to receive help to call.  At the bottom of the ad it said, "over 350 pounds a plus."  I had no idea what kind of gimmick this was, but I quickly shut the screen and went on my way.  But the ad kept coming back to my mind.  Feeling desperate to lose weight, I figured that it couldn't hurt to send my information in!

A few days later. I had a young man in my home with a camera filming while he interviewed and asked me many questions about my life, my family, my childhood.  He couldn't tell me what network he was filming for; so, there was always this uncertainty of whether or not this was really a legitimate program!  LOL!  Only a few weeks later I learned that the cable network, A&E, had approved me to be one of the cast members of their show.  It was a whirlwind from that moment forward!  At first I was told that I would be separated from my family for 3 months.  That was going to be so hard; but, I was willing to do whatever it took to lose this weight and get healthy!  One of the last things my son said to me before he died was that he wanted me to get healthy... and I was determined that one of the legacies that his life would leave was that his life gave me the inspiration to finally lose the weight that I had carried for so many years. 

It was a relief to learn that I would only be gone for 30 days!  Another surprise twist was that the resort we would be staying at was only a few minutes from my home!  For me, that was was fabulous news because in some small way, I still felt close to home.  The resort name is Lake Austin Spa Resort.  It's a secluded 5-star resort that is nestled on beautiful Lake Austin.

MY FIRST DAY TO ARRIVE FOR MY 30 DAY INTENSIVE

I was scheduled to arrive at the resort on a Monday afternoon at 1:30.  My husband treated me to a "last dinner" at a Japanese Steakhouse.  My family was with me so that they could hug me one last time before I said goodbye.  I could barely eat... I had so many emotions running through me at once!  I was excited, anxious, scared, frightened and clinging to all the prayers that I had been covered with before I left home.  We took a few last minute pictures at the restaurant before we left, and I drove ever-so-slowly toward the destination!

I had never been around film crews or producers before, and when everyone is in "action" mode, it can get quite overwhelming.  I have never been asked so many times "how do you feel?"!!  I'm a girl who likes to discuss my feelings... but, I was running out of adjectives to describe them!

I arrived at a school not far from the resort to get "miked up" and the sound guy and camera guy and producer girl all piled into the car as we drove the remaining few miles to the resort.  As a side note, I just want to remind everyone how HOT it gets in Austin.  When you are being filmed driving, you cannot have the air conditioner on because that affects the sound.  When you have a big girl in a hot car with no air conditioning... the sight gets ugly very quickly!  One of the first things my husband learned about me when we got married was to not let me get HOT!  He said, "Honey, you're so sweet... but, you turn into a different person when you get hot!"  Yep, that's why I have a fan in EVERY ROOM of our home!  I have a fan by my bathroom sink and my kitchen sink too!  It's not nice to get me hot!  LOL!  But THIS DAY (and many more days to follow!) I was HOT.

In all honesty, I was leaving my family and friends for 30 days with little fear at all.  I knew that I was covered in prayer, and most importantly I knew that Jesus was with me.  My friends had given me a plaque to keep in my room that said, "I can do ALL things through Him who gives me strength."  Each of them had signed the plaque and wrote an inspirational note.  I felt confident that whatever I faced at the resort, God would give me the strength to face it.

BUT...

WHAT ABOUT...
THE TRAINERS? I had a picture of Jillian Michaels in front of me screaming and yelling and telling me not to cry... which would make me cry harder... and then maybe I would be kicked out of the program because I couldn't handle the exercise that she was demanding I do!  (Ok, Jillian, I'm sure that you're really nice and wonderful... but I am very afraid of you!)  I had just started unpacking my bags when I was told that my new trainer was going to come and meet me!  Enters this absolutely GORGEOUS blonde, with the most BEAUTIFUL tanned and toned body I have ever seen and she starts rummaging through my suitcases to see if I am trying to smuggle in some goodies that might sabatoge my efforts while here!  She takes away my cell phone, she takes away my camera and she informs me that the television will be turned off for the remainder of my stay.  (I had already committed to fasting from television while I was there, so I was OK with that!)  She was nice, but she was stern.  She prominently places my plaque "I can do ALL things through Him who gives me strength" in front of the television screen!  We hug and she says she can't wait to see me tomorrow!  :::door closes:::
"Oh Lord, what have I agreed to?"

OH... MY... THE NEXT 26 DAYS!

I woke early the next morning to a knock on the door.  That was my alarm clock for the month of June!  I was already dressed and ready to go.  I had slept with sponge curlers in my hair the night before, because I thought it might keep my hair from going flat so quickly in the humidity!  (I'm sorry, that's just so funny to me!  Obviously I had NO IDEA
what I faced for that day... and I can promise you, that curly hair would be the least of my worries!)  One thing that I never gave up on was putting on my makeup!  I had even splurged and bought WATERPROOF foundation so that I could wear it while exercising and hopefully it wouldn't sweat off!  Hey... I did it for YOUR protection!  You just don't know how scary it can be to see me without makeup!  :)

Each morning, I was greeted with the most beautiful fog that danced above the lake.  I loved being awake in the early morning because it was the time that the flowers blooms would start to open and the
lizards would come out of hiding and the smell of the coffee from the kitchen would linger through the air.  Not that I could have coffee.  I settled for a hot cup of water with lemon.  There were "eyes" watching you from secret places to make sure that you didn't accidentally slip some caffeine into your cup!  There are so many stories that I would love to share about my adventure there, but I will save that for after the show!  Here are a FEW of my special memories:
THE GARDEN ROOM

Every Sunday morning, most of our group would get together for an intimate church service.  We had a time of singing and I discovered that several of our cast members have beautiful voices!  Kevin would often lead us in a song of worship.  Jodi is rumored to have a gorgeous voice... but I have to say that she has been hiding it from me!  :)  Then, we would have a time of devotion that would be just the inspired message we needed to help us get through the rest of the week! We ended our time together with prayer.  It was during this special time
that I felt closest to everyone. We often had guests who were staying at the resort come and join us, and it was always fun to hear their stories from the adventures in their own life.  I met a woman who had lost her son a few years back, and she was an inspiration to me and helped me in my early stages of grieving.  Another woman, Debra, befriended us all and really blessed us while she was there... and even since we've been home! 
THE POOL BARN

My favorite exercise has always been water aerobics.  I don't know how to swim... but, it was always fun to be in the water and get this big body to move and do exercises that it would never be able to do out of the water!  However, the workouts that the trainers had me do in the pool barn far surpassed any exertion that I felt in an aerobics class.  I didn't have my Polar watch on to gauge my heart rate; but, I am certain that I reached the "heart attack" zone in every one of our sessions together!  I moved slower than anyone else in the water... ANYONE
ELSE!  I learned how to swim in that pool!  The very day I learned how to swim, I swam 1,000 meters!  I had to take lots of Alieve that day!  Ohhhh... the body aches I would endure!  There were some aerobic classes that we could take on our own ~ and I was quick to join those!  In case you're wondering, the waterproof foundation stayed on in the pool!  I'm sure somebody besides me would be interested in that!  Hahaha...
DR. MARK JONES

When I heard that there was going to be a "therapist" on the show, I have to admit that I didn't have the most welcoming attitude about that idea!  I am very particular about who I choose to counsel with and I didn't want someone trying to do hypnosis on me or something crazy like that!  I even wrote my producer and asked him if I could PLEASE use the counselor that I had built a relationship with since my son passed away!  That letter never received a response!  However, God really had me covered when I met Dr. Jones.  I told him in our first session that I had already done alot of work on trying to resolve my issues with food.  I shared how I had been praying for several years for God to reveal the "root" of my food issues.  I knew that some progress had been made; however, the "root" was still there! I was ready to deal with it and move on!  Food had control over me for too long!  During my very first session,
Dr. Jones discerned what the "root" was, we prayed about it together and he gave me some homework that kept me in tears for the first week I was at the resort!  God used Dr. Jones to help me gain the full revelation of God's love for me ~ something I thought I had received and understood ~ but during my month at Lake Austin Spa Resort, that revelation became more real to me than ever before.  I can tell you that I am truly walking in FREEDOM from the bondage that food once held me in.  I have not had to "white knuckle" my way through the day because the food in the kitchen keeps calling my name!  It's a FREEDOM I've never known, and it's the most amazing feeling ever.

Dr. Jones knew how to "talk my language."  He presented things to me in a way that really made sense to me.  He told me that if I could make the same commitment to my health that I have made to my Lord and Savior, then I would never have a struggle with food again.  To some, that sounds easy.  To me, I knew that my commitment to the Lord wasn't just a decision... it had been a process of learning to die to my self so that I could give my life fully and completely to the One who gave His life for me.  It was choosing to walk in a life of complete obedience.  I wondered what that "obedience" looked like in relation to food.  Was that an area that I could truly surrender my want and my will to victoriously?  My track record didn't look so good!  So, one night when I was having some quiet time with the Lord, I tearfully asked Him to show me what walking in obedience looked like to Him when it came to food.  Did it mean that I could never have a brownie again?  :::sweat breaking out!:::  because, I didn't know if I was able to make that commitment!  (just being real!)

Shortly after my son passed away, I had a phrase that planted itself in my heart.  I would hear myself say, "I choose life, not death."  I knew that my son wanted life more than anything.  I knew he wanted life for me too.  Landon was not able to make that choice... but I was.  Each day when I wanted to stay in bed and pull the blanket over my head and cry the many tears of grief that wanted to overtake me, I would think to myself, "I choose life... not death."  That is what gave me the strength to get up and face a new day.

You know, I tend to make God so complicated... and for me, He has always made Himself so simple!  (He knows that's what I need!)  When I was praying about walking in obedience to His will in regards to food, the phrase "CHOOSE LIFE not DEATH" kept running through my mind.  I finally got it!  Making food choices is simple.  CHOOSE LIFE, not DEATH.  Choose foods in their simplist form... in their LIFE form... before it's been killed and stuffed full of perseveratives.  CHOOSE LIFE, NOT DEATH.

Now, every food, drink or snack  I eat goes through the LIFE filter.  Do brownies have LIFE?  Well, I suppose as Bill Crosby would say... it does have eggs... but everything else is DEATH.  So, I think it fails the test.  That's not to say that there aren't great recipes available for brownies that are full of LIFE!!  I choose those!  :)

I've even used "CHOOSE LIFE not DEATH" in my thought processes.  There has been a time (or two!) that I have a negative tape that starts playing in my head... where I begin to wonder if anyone really loves me, is saving my health really worth the effort, blah, blah, blah!  But I will catch myself and say, "Are these thoughts bringing me LIFE or DEATH?  You know what?  There's never any life in allowing those negative tapes to play in your mind!  So, I just  say outloud, "I know these thoughts are not from the Lord - so I reject them!  I CHOOSE LIFE!!"  Funny, those negative thoughts ALWAYS stop immediately!  :)

I know it was the Lord that truly did the transformation in my heart and in my mind ~ but I will always be thankful to Dr. Jones for allowing to be used by God to bring a true life transforming change into my life.  He was an answer to my prayers!
on A&E
"HEAVY"