Valerie – A New Me Forever
My name is Valerie Zink, and this is MY story. I was overweight since the 4rth grade. My parents were very poor while I was growing up, always struggling to make ends meet. Because of this, I ate A LOT of cheap processed foods. I would NEVER blame my parents for who I became; I am just explaining my lack of education when it came to food and being healthy. And I hated to exercise. I was the girl you always saw trailing at the end of EVERYTHING in gym class, yeah, you know the one. That was me.
I continued my poor eating habits as I grew up. I became a closet eater to cope with stress and issues in my life. By the time I got my first job when I was 15, I not only bought my own clothes with that money, and I would secretly buy my own food. It quickly became a free-for-all with my drug of choice, food. Obviously as time went by, I became more and more obese. By my senior year of high school, my weight was so out of control. I got picked on for being ‘fat’ my entire life. By this time I had resigned to the fact that some people are just predestined to be obese. I thought I was just one of them. And that was how I lived most of my adult life. Eating pretty much what I wanted and that consisted of a lot of fast foods. Every once in a while, I would get upset with how I looked or how heavy I had become and I would go on the latest fad diet, lose 20 lbs only to then quickly gain it back again.
In 2004, my husband and I both became tired of trying to get pregnant and decided to focus on weight loss. In about 6 months on Atkins, my husband lost 100 lbs, and I lost 55. One day I woke up feeling strangely, only to find out a few days later that I was 3 1/2 month pregnant! We were so excited to finally be blessed with a child! But due to my extreme obesity, I had gestational diabetes, and also ended my pregnancy with pre-eclampsia, having the doctors induce labor 2.5 weeks early to prevent me from having a stroke. Cameron quickly became the new love of my life! But when Cameron was only 10 weeks old, we found out he had Congenital Heart Disease and would need open heart surgery to repair his precious little heart. Nothing in the world can prepare you for the thought of losing your 2 1/2 month old child. NOTHING. But Cameron was a little hero, came through the surgery fine and was discharged 3 days earlier than the doctors would have expected. After Cameron’s surgery, came a long recovery to ‘normal’ where he wasn’t allowed out of the house other than doctor’s appointments for the entire first year of his life due to risk of infections. This led to very hard times financially and obviously health wise for Chad and me. We quickly fell back into the easy fast food lifestyle since we had so many added responsibilities, and only one of us could leave the house at a time. We quickly regained all the weight we had lost on Atkins. And that was that, I was 297 lbs again, the obese woman I just knew that I was predestined to be. ***SIGH***
And then one day it happened. I was sitting on the couch watching the Biggest Loser season 3, and crying stuffing my face with donuts and ice cream, asking myself why I couldn’t lose weight when it happened. My then 2 year old son walked out of his bedroom and looked up at me and said, “Mommy, come play with me.” I looked at him and told him, “Mommy is too tired, go watch TV.” Minutes later, a light bulb went off. What the heck was I doing? This child had overcome heart disease, and now I was setting him up by being a bad example on how to get it back again! How could I do that to my son, and myself? He deserved a mom that can play, run, jump and have a good time with him. He deserves everything in life since he was given a second chance at living. I needed a second chance to change my life. In that moment, being overweight and lazy was now unacceptable. I decided it was over, one way or another. I got some courage up, and applied to the Biggest Loser, Season 4. I poured my heart into my video and application, and just knew they would pick me!! People cried watching my video; I just knew I would be cast. But on February 14, 2007 when I had still not heart back from casting and heard they would not be announcing casting until March 5th, I decided I wasn’t waiting anymore. I had waited my entire life to do this. NO MORE WAITING.
I started following Eat Right For your Type, counting my calories to the Biggest Loser range of weight times seven, and joined the local gym. And went, and gave 110% in EVERY workout. I was unstoppable. I lost 133 lbs naturally with hard work, clean eating and exercise from 2/14/07 to 3/29/08! (13.5 months) and in the process, I became a runner! Something I would have never thought I would one day say I love.
One thing you will NEVER hear me say about my journey is that it was easy — It just wasn’t. This was a ton of hard work and dedication. BUT I believe that if I can do it, ANYONE can. You just have to truly believe in yourself, trust in God’s strength and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you have the inner ability to do anything you put your mind to with His help. Everyone is strong enough. I really believe that 110%! I had my weeks where my weight went up, and then came back down. I hit plateaus. I struggled EVERY minute some days with what I was going to eat or whether or not to go work out. But I stayed focused. And determined. I made mistakes. But realized that I am only human, and bound to make a few. I just kept remembering part of my favorite quote, “Life is an ever-changing process, and nothing is final. Therefore, each moment and every day is a chance to begin anew.” And that is exactly what I did.
I went from someone who would get out of breath just going up stairs, to running marathons, half marathons, and triathlons. I am a marathon runner and triathlete. I’m an athlete now. That STILL blows my mind. You can ask anyone that knows me in real life. I’m not extraordinary, I wasn’t lucky, and I was so unhealthy. My friends hoped for the best, but secretly I’m not sure they believed I could do it. I’m not sure even my mom or dad were very confident. This is who we ARE/WERE. BUT I BELIEVED. EVERY SECOND OF EVERYDAY. And that’s what YOU have to do. BELIEVE IN YOU. I knew I had the inner strength to accomplish this. I knew I could be whoever I wanted to be, all I had to do was truly believe in me for the first time in my life. I changed my life, and SO CAN ANYONE.