During the first of the year, many individuals make New Year's resolutions. I am no different. My resolution this year was to lose weight and get in better shape for my overall health to increase my self-confidence and, to be honest with you, to look better in a bikini.
About ten years ago, I happened to discover, quite by accident, a book called Body for Life, by Bill Phillips. I had never done weight training, never read a muscle magazine, and frankly, was not too impressed with all those body-building competitions where the participants had enormous veins popping out all over and many of the women looked more masculine than feminine. That just wasn't my thing.
Sadly, what was my thing, was a problem with emotional eating, a lack of exercise, and a lack of any knowledge of what I should or shouldn't be eating, nutritionally. At 5'6", I had been fortunate to have been blessed with a decent metabolism, a small waist, and a seemingly pretty face, according to others. However, Body for Life forced me to really take a good look at myself and where I was physically.
My weight in ten years had jumped from 125 to 149 pounds. I refused to allow that scale to hit 150. I was wearing blazers year round (tough to do in South Louisiana) to hide my big rear end, and tried to avoid going anyplace where people I had gone to church or school with would see me. I would grocery shop across town and avoid Wal-Mart and the local mall like the plague. I became almost reclusive.
I followed the instructions and advice set forth in this relatively straightforward, easy-to-read, national best seller, and Body for Life changed me physically from a ladies size 8-10 to a 4 in a mere 12 weeks. Among other things, I learned that weight training makes women lean and toned. The stereotypes of women training with weights ending up looking unfeminine and really bulked up are completely untrue. By following a tried and true cardio and weight training program and by eating a low fat and healthy carb diet, with a free day each week to eat whatever I wanted, I reached my goals. Chocolate cake and pepperoni pizza, check. McDonald's Filet-o-Fish and a hot apple pie, sure. On a side note, I was thrilled to give every blazer I owned away!
Fast forward ten years. Like many, I have fluctuated with my weight over the last ten years, but I have never gone back to where I was prior to Body for Life. Thank you, Bill Phillips, for showing me the way. However, I found that I would follow the program temporarily, for a relationship I was in or for a commercial shoot or TV hosting gig, and then, for some reason, when the relationship was over or the job was over, I'd treat myself with bad, but tasty, food choices and slack off on exercise. I was riding this unhealthy roller coaster of ten pounds up and down and up and down. I'd miss a lot of commercial work, because my weight wasn't consistent and auditions tend to come up when you least expect them.
I needed help, so I Googled Bill Phillips and found out he had created a new program called "Transformation." Since he had more than 20 years of experience as the "go to guy" for numerous celebrities and professional athletes who desired healthy lifestyle changes and getting in the best shape of their lives, I knew I was in the right place. The mantra of the program, according to the website was, "Making healthy changes in our lives so we can make a difference in the lives of others."
A transformation seemed to be just what I needed to kickstart my 2010, so I joined at www.transformation.com and was pleased to see that it was free of charge. I went in "undercover," as a full-time school teacher and part-time TV host (I am both of those things), but my real plan was to blog about my transformation experience.
One of the first things you can't help but notice about the website are the profiles of challengers. "Challengers" are those individuals who join with the intention of completing the program. I became a challenger. The term challenger seems to conjure up images of fierce competitiveness, but there was none of that to be found. Rather, there was this amazing sense of camaraderie. The challengers weren't competing against one another. In reality, they were competing against themselves, which was refreshing. Every profile would have positive and encouraging comments to and from various challengers. The site also has active members who are former champions and several people who have various coach titles. Even Bill Phillips himself is active. Challengers may even find a special note of encouragement from him on occasion.
A new book entitled Bill Phillips, Transformation by Phillips is due out in June of this year, and I wanted to know if I could complete this transformation, while experiencing lifelong results, this time around. What was different about this program?
According to Phillips, "Things won't change by waiting on the same old bureaucratic system to come through. The solution is up to us. It's our opportunity. We must '…be the change we want to see in the world,' as the Hindu spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi so profoundly stated. We'll only change the big picture by accepting responsibility for the problem and rising up to the challenge as individuals. Our personal transformation becomes the message, the example, and the inspiration which helps our families, our societies, our nations, and our world."
In mid-January, I began my quest to discover the secrets behind "Transformation."
Immediately upon my posting a profile photo, various challengers offered thoughtful and encouraging comments on my profile page for the world to see. Honestly, I've met some of the most wonderful people through this transformation process and many I plan to keep as lifelong friends. Once you know someone's profile name, it's possible to view their profile page without logging in. However, unlike Facebook or Myspace, you won't find inappropriate, naughty or rude comments. Amazingly, you will only find positive ones. Many challengers even offer spiritual verses or prayers on your behalf when you tell them you are struggling.
Bill Phillips makes it known that people of all religions, beliefs, races and cultures are welcome. Transformation does not discriminate. Everyone is welcome. The unity among the challengers seems to be found in the fact that all of the participants have their own hurts and obstacles to overcome. Yet as a whole, they compassionately set their own hurts aside to provide comfort and encouragement to other challengers. It's akin to the family you always wanted.
Upon registering as a challenger and learning to maneuver around the transformation.com site, I learned about the assignments. My first thought was, "Ughhh — homework." Rather than a twelve-week program, as Body for Life had been, "Transformation" is an eighteen-week program. The challenge is broken down into weekly assignments with an emphasis on "progress and not perfection," as Bill Phillips put it on one challenge.
Eighteen weeks seems like a long time, but after a few weeks' delay using every possible procrastination excuse I could find, I did Assignment One. Wow! What an eye opener. Assignment one really made me dig deep. According to the site, "This week, Bill challenges you to reveal the truth about where you are now, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. He then helps you set goals."
One of the questions asked me to discuss three values I hold deep within my heart.
One of my values was the following: "I value my relationship with my heavenly father, through His son, Jesus Christ. My faith has taken me through some of the lowest points in my life when I've wanted to just give up and life just didn't seem worth living. My faith has sustained me when I was in relationships that completely cut me off from family and friends and put my life in danger. My faith has sustained me when I felt completely worthless and used. My faith has given me hope and is the reason I am still here and hopeful, rather than hopeless. My faith gives me a message to share with others who face the darkness, that there is light and hope."
To be quite honest with you, after the first assignment, some personal soul searching, and even a few tears, I could really see what this transformation truly meant. I was going to be transforming myself from the inside out. Only then could I have long-lasting results. I was in the process of valuing, loving and forgiving myself enough to make permanent changes. What a beautiful revelation.
I can't say everything has been easy, but I will say this for "Transformation," it has worked for me so far. I'm currently at week ten and I've gone from 28.7% body fat to 23.4% body fat, which is amazing. I'm not starving myself. I can eat six mini meals spaced throughout the day and I still get a free day once a week. Recipes are available at the site that are pretty tasty, too! Challengers are always offering their recipe advice, as well. I'm working out and I feel great! My clothes are already feeling loose! Woohoo!
I did have a setback and started over mid-February, because I allowed someone I met on the site to discourage me on a personal level. I must say though, this was an isolated incident and without going into detail, it was addressed. Don't hesitate to get involved in the community. Don't become an island unto yourself, because you just won't achieve the same results without the love, tips and encouragement from the community.
However, for women who are vulnerable, just be on guard that there are certain individuals who may show interest in you on a personal level but do not have your best interest at heart. Exercise caution on the Transformation site, just as you would on any open forum social networking site, especially when you are going through the healing process of many of the exercises and posting them in a public forum.
Overall, my transformation, thus far, has been an incredibly healing and empowering experience. I'll be posting progress pictures on my profile page in the next week. Posting the original ones were pretty humiliating, but a vital step in the process. I challenge you to join me in transforming yourselves, inside and out. You have nothing to lose but fat, fear, and low self-esteem. You will gain strength, confidence, and the ability to truly love yourself and to love others. What a beautiful gift you have given us, Bill Phillips. Thank you.