When I came across Theresa’s story my mouth literally dropped. This is truly an inspiring story about a women who decided to take action and make the change to turn her life around. I am very happy to be able to interview Theresa and find out what exactly she did to achieve this. Not only was this a physical transformation for Theresa but a mental battle as well. Her old way of thinking went away with her weight and she gained new insights on life. It’s always darkest before dawn and Theresa gave herself another chance and is now a living inspiration.
Enjoy the interview with Theresa!
1 – Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you have accomplished.
My name is Theresa and I am a walking miracle! Just over 2 years ago, I weighed 428 pounds and was dependent on an electric wheelchair, wheeled walker, or cane to get around. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and between the RA and the obesity, I could barely function. I was at rock-bottom and lived a life of emotional and physical pain. At age 47, I considered selling my home to move into an Assisted Living facility because I could barely function and take care of myself. I couldn’t stand up long enough to wash a dish or brush my teeth. I couldn’t walk to the mailbox to get my mail. I couldn’t shop in any stores that didn’t have an Amigo cart. My life was a total mess and I honestly didn’t know how much longer I could go on living the nightmare. But one day, I decided that I no longer wanted to live like that! I decided that I was too young to die and I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. At that moment, I decided “enough is enough” and I completely changed my life. In just two years’ time, I lost 275 pounds….all without surgery, diet pills, or crazy fad diets. I did it completely on my own with only my faith in God and my own determination and will to succeed. Today I am a completely new woman. I am living life to the fullest. I no longer need to use a mobility device. I walk freely and even ride a bicycle. While I’ll always have to deal with the complications of RA, I have reduced my need for high-potency pain medications and have lowered my blood pressure and cholesterol to normal levels. I truly am a miracle and happier than I ever imagined possible!
2 – What inspired you to decide to make this incredible change?
Over a period of about 6 weeks, I had several conversations with people who planted the seed for change, however, I had made no conscious decision…or even thought about…losing weight now or in the future. I just didn’t think it was possible without divine intervention or surgery. I lost two teeth as a result of a soda addiction and my Rheumatologist told me that he was at a loss about what to do to ease my pain as we had already tried multiple medication combinations with no success. My sister was the final catalyst I needed to change. She called me on March 1, 2011 and told me that she was scheduled to have a barbaric weight loss surgery on St. Patrick’s Day. I begged her not to do it; I was afraid that something terrible would go wrong. Surgery seemed so drastic, and I did my best to talk her out of it. Ultimately the decision was hers, and when I hung up the phone, I proclaimed out-load “I’m going to show you: There is another way!” What was I going to show her, I wondered? I was 428 pounds and I couldn’t even walk. I hadn’t been on weight loss plan in years. I had no intention of dieting. I had no comprehension that I could lose more than 200 pounds without surgery. And yet…here I am! In that very moment, everything just “clicked in my head” and I started to empty soda bottles down the drain and dump the sugar bowl in the trash. In that very moment, I completely made up my mind and changed my life! I have never looked back. “Old Theresa” and all her negative thinking died that day and “New Theresa” was born.
3 – Did you find it difficult to stay on track during the process?
Not at all. I was extremely motivated and once I made up my mind, No Thing or No one was going to derail me. Certainly, there were times when I wanted to just give up After all…this was the hardest thing I ever did…but in the entire 2 year time…in fact…even to this day… I have not once given into temptation or went off of plan. Not one M & M; not one bite of cake; not even one little taste of anything off my plan. I’m too afraid to. I will admit, however, that maintaining the weight is harder than losing it. There is more temptation now to have a little taste or indulge in an occasional treat…and justify it…but so far, so good. I have put way too much effort and work into getting to this point, and I never…ever….ever…want to go back to that old life. “New Theresa” is having too much fun!
4 – For some this seems like an impossible task, what kept you going and motivated?
For me…first and foremost, my faith kept me going, but my sole motivation was to WALK. I wanted to walk more than I wanted the short-term satisfaction of ice-cream. That same motivation still keeps me going today. I never want to go back to that chair or walker, and yet I am well aware that it may happen one day because RA never goes away. But…if it does…it won’t be because I’m 400+ pounds. Of course, the satisfaction of “showing my sister” was a strong motivation as well! A little sibling rivalry is as sweet as a cookie.
5 – Were your friends and family encouraging you during the experience?
Yes, I had a lot of support from my friends and family along the way. I also had my share of “sabotage attempts” coming from them. “You can have a little bit, can’t you?” “Just one bite won’t hurt”, “you’re note eating enough….” etc., but for the most part, I am blessed to have their support. I know they are very relieved that I made this change because I have since heard that many of them wondered how long it would be before they got a call on the phone saying that I had dropped dead of a heart attack. I never knew how concerned they were. I know they are extremely proud of me. I sat them down a while ago and made them promise me that if started to gain the weight back (within reason…like more than 20 pounds) that they needed to do an intervention and get me back on track. They agreed and I know I can count on them to keep me focused. My sister went through with the surgery and lost 125 pounds and even though we lived 200 miles apart, it was still great to share a similar journey with her. She had much less to lose and she would pass her “fat clothes” down to me and we would share recipes, tips, and encouragement. Today we are both at healthy weights.
6 – There are so many options for one to lose weight, but many still find it difficult to get started. What do you think is the most effective way to accomplish this?
First and foremost, you must find your motivation…a motivation that isn’t connected to an “event” or for any purpose other than being healthier and happier. Many times people try to lose weight for a class reunion or a family wedding. Sometimes it’s for a contest or other type of challenge. Other times they do it for “someone else”….(maybe my spouse will love me more or I’ll find a boy/girlfriend.) Although these are good reasons, those reasons typically have an expiration date. The wedding comes and goes, the relationship may break up because he/she liked you better “fat”, the contest ends….whatever, and then the person goes off plan and gains back all the weight and then some. Do this for YOU…for your own personal health and happiness….to make your life better. Make your motivation something that you will never want to lose. For me… I wanted to WALK again. Certainly those other reasons existed: I wanted to look better; I wanted to show my sister that I could do it: I wanted to improve my health and buy stylish clothes, etc., Those things happened as a result of my weight loss, but they weren’t necessarily my REASON to lose weight.
7 – What are some of the benefits you got from the whole experience?
The health benefits speak for themselves; I no longer depend on so much medication nor do I need to use a wheelchair or cane, but the emotional and spiritual benefits far outweigh it all. The weight loss is a visible sign; but the true transformation is internal. I have completely changed my way of life and now I see things so much differently. I now have a sense of gratitude…for everything…and have come to appreciate the gift of Life. I am able to do so many things that I never dreamed possible; things that an average size person may take for granted. Things like cross my legs, tie my shoe, walk in the mall, etc. I am absolutely loving life for the first time in many years. I cherish each day as a gift from God and I am thrilled to be able to participate in life, rather than just watch as others live it. In addition, I have the tremendous privilege of sharing my story with the world via interviews, blogs, speaking engagements, etc. I am able to help others…to encourage them….to bring hope to those who might be ready to give up trying. I am truly blessed beyond measure!
8 – If you were able to go back in time before you made the change what advice would you give yourself?
I would have done this a LONG TIME AGO! I would have not been so focused on the massive amount of weight that I needed to lose and would have not put it off because I thought it was “impossible.” I also would have learned more productive and healthier ways to deal with the grief and loss that contributed to my weight gain. I would have not used food as a comfort and would not have allowed myself to get to 400 pounds in the first place. With that being said, however, one truly needs to be at a place in his/her life…and thinking…to make a permanent change. Some say I needed to hit ‘rock-bottom” so that I didn’t have any other choice but to do something….or lay there and die.
9 – Do you have any advice for those who don’t know how to get started?
Start small. Start by making small changes that you are willing to live with for the rest of your life. Don’t begin a plan with the thought that you will ever go off of it. If going ‘cold turkey” is too hard for you; try cutting back. If you can’t imagine going completely without soda, try alternating one bottle of soda with one bottle of water. If you can’t walk two miles…start with a few steps and increase the distance a little bit each week. Try using half the amount of sugar or eating half the amount of ice-cream if you aren’t able to give it up completely. Even small changes can make big differences over time. Before long, you these changes will become a way of life and you won’t even want to go back. Plus, when you see positive results, you’ll have the desire to make even more changes and put more effort into it. Secondly…you must BELIEVE that your life can be different. Believe that you will be successful. Get rid of the “I’ve tried before, what’s the use” mentality and start telling yourself that THIS TIME, you will do it! This time, you will reach your goal. This time will be different! Don’t ever give up; keep trying over and over again.
10 – You have an inspiring story! Is there any way for people to follow you? Perhaps a blog?
I currently have a Facebook group called “We Can Change Our Lives” (https://www.facebook.com/groups/474464552591488/). I signed up my 1000th group member today! I also write a blog called: Theresa Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (http://tdlha.blogspot.com/) as well as operate a website: www.thereasborawski.net. I make inspirational videos that are uploaded on YouTube and I am often asked to do various speaking engagements. If you need inspiration and support, feel free to contact me at [email protected]
Hope you enjoyed this interview. Remember with hard work and dedication you can accomplish anything!