Kimberly Lynn is a woman that I had gone to high school with in New York. A few years ago, we reconnected with the help of facebook. I’d been occasionally seeing Kim’s statuses here and there, but took a special interest in her life about a year ago – when she began to talk about making some big lifestyle changes. Once I was able to visually see what she was doing through the pictures she posted, I was immediately inspired and wanted to keep updated on her progress. A year later, I knew her story would have an impact on anyone who heard it. She was kind enough to let me share! I am sharing Kim’s story because she embodies the kind of values I try to promote with Beutiful. She is an extremely strong, inspirational woman who has overcome great struggles with her health and made changes/choices that were right for her. Her lifestyle changes were made for the right reason – to become a healthier person – rather than to look better. Kim’s story is rather relevant to our culture because it shows that even young people can be susceptible to serious illnesses – youth is not an excuse to abuse your body and not take care of it, as so many children, teens and young adults do. This is a great testament to hard work, self-discovery and self-love. So, without further adieu, here’s what Kim had to say about her journey! KIMBERLY LYNN I am 26 years old and just recently graduated from Suffolk County Community College’s Registered Nurse Program and am eagerly awaiting passing my boards and starting my new career. I graduated from St. Joseph’s College with a Bachelor’s degree in History and a minor in Political Science. I currently work at Maryhaven Center of Hope (assisting children, adults and senior citizens with disabilities) and absolutely love my job! It is such a privilege to have a rewarding career and I am able to touch the lives of such wonderful people. I am one of two children – I have a younger sister. My family and friends are very important to me and are a big reason I am who I am today. Their support and love have been endless. I decided to pursue a healthier lifestyle for a few reasons. In 2007 I was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. I was told that if I continued this lifestyle I would most likely not make it past 30 years old. I was 21 when I was diagnosed and scared for my life. I weighed in at 389 lbs and was scared to death. I went on Weight Watchers shortly following the diagnosis and lost 90 lbs on my own but I guess my mind wasn’t ready for this journey because I fell off track and ended up gaining the weight back. Last May 2011, I was having bad stomach pains. I was in and out of the ER and they found out that my gall bladder was 90% diseased (from the way I ate) and it would need to come out. Normally, this is a normal surgery that most do great with. However, because I was so obese I was concerned along with the doctors that my chances of having major complications including death were so great because of the extreme weight. When I was put to sleep for that surgery I feared that I would never wake up. Luckily for me the surgery went great and I didn’t have any complications. However it was at that moment that I realized enough was enough I could either sit and await my death or do something about it. I decided after my gall bladder surgery to look into bariatric surgery (reducing the size of the stomach). The surgeon who did my gall bladder worked in a bariatric practice so they were able to get some of the pre-op testing done. I met with the surgeon in June to follow up from the surgery and began the journey. It was a lot of work to get the surgery approved. This included many appointments with cardiologists, pulmonologists, psychiatrists, nutritionists, sleep studies, blood work, endoscopy, etc. Finally after going through the process I was able to set up my date for the surgery. I had decided on a RNY gastric bypass surgery. August 3rd 2011 would be the day my life would change forever. The process was very difficult. It was a lot of work to get up to the surgery date. Prior to the surgery I was put on a high protein diet and was told that I needed to lose 20lbs before the surgery 1) to prove that I was committed to the surgery and 2) to shrink the size of my liver (obese patients are prone to fatty livers and removing some of the fat by losing weight would make it easier for the surgeon to get to my stomach). After surgery I remember being in so much pain. Not only did I have the gastric bypass but I had a hiatal hernia repair. I had to retrain my stomach to eat and I would have to proceed through stages of a diet. This started with a liquid stage (clear liquids only, then full liquids, then pureed, then full solids). For someone who was addicted to food all their life only being able to eat such small restricted meals due to the size of my stomach was very emotionally trying. The one thing that I want to say about the surgery is this: this was a medical intervention for me. I was diagnosed with Sleep Apnea and Type II Diabetes and had tried multiple weight loss programs in the past. This was an intervention I needed to save my life so by no means was this the “easy way out” as I have heard it termed by some. This surgery is a tool. Yes, it shrank my stomach and re-routed my intestines to prevent me from being able to eat as much. It also changed the way my body absorbs food but without hard work and dedication the surgery can fail. I still watch what I eat and follow a high protein low carb diet and I spend hours in the gym.At 5 months post-op I was introduced to a local gym in Ronkonkoma called Team Extreme. This is an extreme boot camp ran by a real army drill sergeant where Tyrome along with the other trainers push you farther than you have ever been pushed before (contact info below). They had a respect for all body types and all ability levels. After trying two free sessions I immediately knew I needed to join this gym and that it was going to be what I needed to add to my healthy lifestyle. I knew they were going to push me and make me achieve every goal and aspiration that I had for my physical fitness. I now currently train every morning at 6am Monday-Friday for an hour and then again on the weekends. So in total 7 days a week one hour a day. I just recently started doing one on one training with one of the trainers at the gym – Bobby Brown. He has helped me further myself physically and mentally. He has shown me that my mind is my only weakness and with determination and the will to succeed I can do anything. Over this past year I have ran two 5k races and one 15k. I am also signed up for the Xtreme Boot camp challenge on September 1st at the Brookhaven Ampitheather. I am a totally new person. I live a whole new life. Prior to making this commitment to changing my life I would sit around depressed about being so heavy and in my eyes, so unattractive. I dreamed of being able to do what most girls did at my age but couldn’t because I was embarrassed of my weight. I would be limited to what I could participate in. I couldn’t fit in an airplane seat, I couldn’t ride roller coasters because I wouldn’t fit in the seat, I would worry that I wouldn’t fit in certain chairs while at work or at school, I sat uncomfortable and embarrassed at movie theaters. Now I have traveled by airplane on vacation and sat comfortably and was able to buckle the seatbelt. I’ve ridden roller coasters until I felt sick, I enjoy a movie comfortably and don’t feel like everyone is staring and I no longer fear where I will sit at work or at school. I am in the best shape of my life. I have watched in awe over the years people running races and working out at the gym but never had the courage to fight obesity and join alongside them. I would dread buying clothes and now you can’t get me out of the store. Most importantly, my health has changed. I am no longer diabetic and I no longer have Sleep Apnea. My blood pressure, cholesterol and all lab levels are absolutely normal. I got my life back – I am a normal 26 year old girl. I have lost 180 lbs over this past year, I went from a BMI of 59 to a BMI of 31. I am active and I enjoy living life and participating in adventurous activities. I know that I will live a long healthy life and get to enjoy all that life has to offer me. For those who are facing a health crisis, the most important thing people can do for their health is take back control over their lives. Realize how much you are worth and how much life is worth living and go for it! Fight for your life and get that second chance. People need to realize that our bodies are temples and we need to feed them right and fuel them right. It doesn’t have to be an obsession, just a new lifestyle where you incorporate healthy eating and exercise. Know that there is no magic pill, magic diet or magic exercise plan. It’s all about making time for yourself and your health. You need to monitor what you put in your body and then remember that you need to exercise on a regular basis. If you are struggling, know that it is a battle – but one that can be fought and won. Realize that it’s a journey and not one that will happen over night; chances are you didn’t become overweight or unhealthy overnight, so give yourself time. Celebrate each small accomplishment and know that you are making yourself the healthiest you. Surround yourself with positive people who will support you in this journey. Look in the mirror each and every day and remind yourself that you are beautiful and you are worth it because you are! And make the journey yours….find what you what to accomplish, set your goals and don’t stop until you reach them! It took a very long time for me to come to terms with what I have gained with this life-long journey and just recently had an eye opening moment. I realized that I am beautiful and my body is important to me. I learned to respect myself, my body and acknowledge all my hard work and dedication. I learned to celebrate my successes no matter how big or small and to appreciate this second chance at life. I discovered that I am beautiful inside and out and I am proud of myself for all the challenges and obstacles I have overcome. I am worth it and worth fighting for and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. I accept that I am not perfect nor will I ever be, but I am comfortable and proud of the beautiful strong woman I am. A big part of the journey has been finding out what I love about myself. Like I have mentioned previously, it took many times of falling on my face and brushing myself back off to realize what I love about myself. I can confidently say that I love my beautiful personality and the way I care for so many people both in my profession and with my friends and family. I absolutely love my life and all the people I choose to surround myself with. I love my body for what it is knowing and understanding it is not perfect but it is something that I have worked to make the best me possible. I love myself for my successes my failures. All the lessons I have learned in between has made me the best me I could possibly be. ——————————————————————————————————————————– If you’re on Long Island – Team Extreme LI : 631-676-4733 (ask for Tyrome Wilkins) Kim’s personal fitness trainer Bobby Brown: B.email@example.com (consultation and private training) *This is the gym and trainer that Kim worked with while reaching her fitness goals.