Top Three Questions On Weight-Loss Transformation

The pool at the apartment building is open, and within a few hours I will be parked on a luxurious lawn chair flanked by exotic flowers. The sun is shining and the aqua blue water is shimmering from my fourth floor patio view.

I’ve been dreaming of this moment. Thanks to BFF Kim Schiltz I’ll be sporting a retro high-waisted bikini: Tiffany blue on top and black on the bottom. She bought me the ensemble as a reward in my weight loss journey. I don’t mean to be braggadocios, but for the first time in my life I own more than one swimsuit. Thank you, Name Brand Clothing, for your year-end sale last summer. It’s hard for a fancy girl to decide polka-dots or stripes.  At three bucks each, I took both. The size 8 suits were sequestered to a drawer for the winter season and today Tiffany blue will be the first to hit the clubhouse runway. The garments have every right to be excited because their kind were not invited to the party twenty-four months ago when this 5″4″ Tubby Tuna trekked down the hill to the waterhole in a size 16/18 Lane Bryant Tankini.

The summer of 2015 I slipped over to a corner in an effort to conceal my out-of-shape 200-pound caregiver physique. How the heck did I explode to obesity?  Yes, that’s the word. Obese.  For the record, “obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have a negative effect on health.” My cholesterol was high along with my blood pressure.  BMI was over 30 and body weight was more than 20% over the recommended number. As a society we like to be politically correct and refer to fatness as chubby, big-boned, or heavy. We also tell our friends “It’s the insides that count!” Well, my insides were in grave danger and problems began on the uphill walk back to my apartment. My short little Irish body was sporting over sixty extra pounds of weight [the equivalent weight of one 40 lb. canoe plus one twenty pound Little Monster Boston Terrier] and under the strain I began to see little stars.  I tried to rationalize it.  It’s just really hot out. I’m dehydrated. But after I spooled through a variety of plausible excuses I settled on the truth: My health was in serious jeopardy because my body was fat.

Mika Brzezinski brilliantly writes:

Fat. Obese. These are words that can sting. But, they are words that we need to use to have an honest conversation about the biggest health crisis facing our country: the epidemic of obesity among American adults and children.

An honest conversation transpired in my mind that afternoon, and I began to listen to what scale was screaming and the mirror was reflecting. Even with that revelation, it took me two more months and one more Oprah Ah-Ha moment in Kim’s pool to formulate a real-life plan of action for change. I assessed that I could not do it on my own, and I needed to hire the expertise of Nutrition and Life Coach Matt Jackson, owner of M.E.A.T.  Under Jackson, the results in 21 months have been both life-saving and life-changing.  As the world watched me go from a size 18 to 8, three consistent questions arise:

  1. The Cost
  2. The Time
  3. The Results

1. The Cost:

My health is an investment, not an expense. Period.

Matt and April Jackson, Owners of M.E.A.T., Make Everyday a Transformatiion

Nevertheless, I’ve heard, “Must be nice to have a personal trainer.” The answer is “Yes it is.  It’s a privilege to have a world-class coach like Matt Jackson.”

Jackson is not the first coach to be the recipient of a signed Valerie Bourdain check.  In two decades of raising a son, there were t-ball, baseball, soccer, swimming and golf coaches that all eagerly took my cash-ola.  Highest on the paid-per-hour coach list was the twice-a-week for two years advanced math coach for my little brainiac.  Moms of America, you spent two decades devoting your hard earned money to buying everything from toilet bowl cleaner to trainers for your children. Let’s not forget those emergency room costs when your child jammed a Coco puff up their nose or inserted that cereal box prize into their ear.  You’re worth it. Get help if you need it.

As the woman who huffed and puffed all the way home from the pool, I also factored in the potential devastating cost of my poor health. “How much will a heart attack cost you?” by Steve Vernon in MoneyWatch is a must-read. Every word is informative, but to summarize, “The average cost of a less severe heart attack is about $760,000. Amortized over 20 years, that’s $50,000 per year for a severe heart attack and $38,000 per year for a less severe heart attack.”  I think Dr. James Heck says it best: “Or you could have a heart attack that costs you nothing.”

“How Much Does It Cost?” also arises with regards to my grocery bill. There are now so many more shopping choices than Whole Wallet. Aldi is now a front runner in the eat-healthy game, often providing better pricing than WalMart.

How Much Does It Cost?”

  • The cost of the 16/18 Lane Bryant Tankini:  $80.00.
    • The cost of two, size 8 designer swimsuits from Name Brand Clothing: $6.00.
  • The cost of my anti-depressant (which was subsidized by the Pharmaceutical Company because of my extreme circumstances from my daughter’s painful death): $240.00
    • Cost of Kendra’s drop in Bootcamp that sends me rushing to bed by 9:00 p.m.:  $8.00 to $10.00.
  • Cost of Chico’s size 14/16 clothes at the 190 weight mark:  $35 to $150.00
    • Cost of size 8 Chico’s clothes that I frequently find at The Goodwill in new condition:  $3.49 less my 10% senior citizen discount. (I’m more of an Ann Taylor girl these days…still cheaper!)
  • Cost of healthcare in our uncertain future: Check out The NYTimes.

2. The Time:

“I just don’t have time for that.”

Managing my health does take time. I average two hours of meal planning/prepping on Sunday, mapping out food macros for the week on I am not a single mom juggling two jobs just to put food on the table for a slew of kids, and if that’s you reading this blog, my heart goes out to you. But I am responsible for my own life, and if my day is jam-packed, I get up earlier to hit the apartment gym. For the record, my day starts at 5:30 a.m. at the latest.  That means some days I’m up as early as 4 a.m.

Working out so profoundly affects my mental health, there really is no excuse in the book that will hold up with Jackson, and well he scares me a little if I dare to present an alibi.  But I do need to address a hard fact when I hear “How do you find the time?” We must look at the truth as Americans about our television. The Daily News writes, “The average American watches more than five hours of live television every day.” If that doesn’t scare the heck out of you, the monthly total is even more alarming. “By ethnic groups, Nielsen finds that African Americans watch an average of 218 hours of television a month. Whites watch 155.3 hours, Hispanics an average of 123.2 hours and Asian Americans an average of 92.3 hours.”

How many hours do I work out per week: 1 to 1.5 hours per day – 7 to 10 hours per week, leaving me plenty of time for that Downton Abby binge-watching marathon. I’m all caught up on The Crown and getting ready to start The Travellers.

3. The Results:

“I want faster results.”

Down one 40 lb. boat…one 20 lb. little monster dog to go.

It took me ten years to drift out of shape, and it’s taking time to conquer new horizons. Slow and steady wins the race and I’m lapping everyone on the couch that is watching 155.3 hours a month of television.  Jackson’s goal was to decrease body fat, increase muscles and calories, and give me an overall better quality of life.

“I just don’t want to get all muscly.”

Oh, for Pete’s Sake! If only gaining muscle was so easy.  You know, human bodies get what they get first by genetics.  I was fortunate to get my mom’s gorgeous legs.  While I am all about modesty, I will be sporting shorter skirts in the summer months as long as I have breath.   My arms are a whole different story. The flab under my biceps seems to continue to wave long after the parade has gone by.  I’ve been lifting weights and flipping tires for almost two years under Jackson. My body feels stronger, but at no point will you confuse me for a competition body builder with my less than sexy batwings.  I’m just glad I’ve advanced to going sleeveless in the summer.

As I did research for this blog I ran across the fitness philosophy of Gwyneth Paltrow’s trainer:  “No woman should lift more than 3 lbs.” Please click the link and read in its entirety. Agatsu Fitness Blog gives you the skinny on why you should build muscle, especially as you age.

Don’t want to get all muscly? Kim Schiltz was not only crowned Mrs. Continents 2016, but she won the overall swimsuit award for the 2016 Continents Pageant. That was for all divisions: Teen, Miss and Mrs. Her age?  40. She lifts heavy weights, and is a Pro All Natural Body Building Competitor. Don’t want to get all muscly?  Yeah, it would be wrong to look like her.

Mrs. Continents 2016 – Kim Schiltz

Key Notes:

  • If your friend is endeavoring to start a fitness program, be their advocate not their adversary.
  • There are those that are double my weight with better blood pressure and cholesterol levels. I chose a path that was right for me, and may be different for others based on their health history.
  • My life depended on making radical changes. Not all were supportive. I’m grateful my workplace cheered me on, and put up little blockades when treats arrived.

On A Lighter Note:

  • I gotta come clean.  I was the child that shoved a Coco Puff up her nose.  Don’t know what that ER visit cost my parents.
  • Gwyneth Paltrow never lifts more than 3 lbs.?  Who lifts the 10 lb. toilet lid to jiggle the handle when the toilet goes rogue?






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  1. Another great blog! I needed to read it for inspiration. I’ve got to turn my fitness life around and start eating better. Time to shed the pounds and keep them off!

  2. WOW!! Wise wise words and even wiser actions. You truly are an inspiration!

  3. I LOVE this post!!! Valerie, you look absolutely amazing and it so GOOD to see you smiling. Thank you for putting health in perspective – it is worth it. This statement, “My health is an investment, not an expense. Period,” helped me realize going back to Weight Watchers is an investment in my health. So far I’ve lost almost 20 lbs. since January (slow and steady as she goes-ha). Keep on, keeping on – and here’s to keeping it off! Much love!

    1. Jan, I’m delighted to hear you are caring for yourself! You are a beautiful woman! Yes, keeping it off is work, but please join me for a bootcamp sometime. Your first class is free. I promise you’ll live through it!

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Article by: Valerie Bourdain

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