The direct messages I get on Twitter are usually of this variety:
Did you see this pic of you? lol
0rder chepz f0ll0wers with n0 need
Hey, this user is writing cruel posts about you
Like any prudent person, not wanting to catch anything, I always promptly delete, delete, delete.
So, when I got a DM from @SmileyGwyn that started like this
How can I help others by telling my story?
I almost, out of muscle memory, deleted. But, something made me pause. Hmm, this one looks different. I opened it. No link. That's always a good sign. Then, I checked out the profile.
Oh! She's a real person. ... Oh! She lost over 80 pounds in a year! ... Oh! She calls herself @SmileyGwyn.
How could I delete SmileyGwyn?
Even better, how could I not help her help others by telling her story?
So, without further ado, have you met SmileyGwyn?
Q: Ok, for starters, who are you @SmileyGwyn? I love your Twitter handle. How could I not respond to @SmileyGwyn! Age, occupation, marital status, hometown, where live now, kids?
A: Gwyn Eggestein, 33, Social Worker and blogger, married, Bolingbrook, IL and still live in Bolingbrook, I have an 8 yr old son that is in 2nd grade. My husband and I have been married for 4 years. We do not have children together.
Q: If I may ask, how much do you weigh now? How much have you lost? Over what period of time?
A: I weigh 205.2. I have lost 87.8 lbs since Dec 31, 2011
Q: So, one year ago, you weighed 293 pounds. I always say a lot can happen in a year! Clearly! Was that weigh in your aha moment?
A: My weigh in was not my aha moment. I was horrified that I was so close to being 300 lbs and the last time I saw that number, I was pregnant. I had no excuse this time around. My final aha moment that made me call my friend to attend a Weight Watchers meeting was at Christmas. We were eating dinner at my Grandma’s and she had assigned seating. I wasn’t able to sit in the chair she assigned me because the chair was too close to the wall and table. My husband changed chairs with me, but I was so embarrassed. My grandma mentioned that we should join Weight Watchers together. I told her it was a good idea.
Q: Were there any other aha moments?
A: Other Aha moments I had was the fact that my favorite jeans with butterfly pockets didn’t fit me anymore. They were size 24 and I could have purchased size 26 but that would be admitting I was getting bigger. I went to Goodwill and got elastic band black pants that I wore all the time. I stayed in that denial for 2 years. In July 2011, I flew to visit my mom in California. My seatbelt on the plane kept on snapping off. I convinced myself that the seatbelt was broken or defective. The truth of the matter was that I became too embarrassed to ask for an extension to the seat belt. I managed to hold my hand close to the seatbelt so the flight attendant wouldn’t notice. I also wasn’t able to put the seat arms down. I would get out of breath when I tied my shoes. I started wearing slipon shoes so I could avoid this major discomfort. If I had to tie my shoe, I would sit down and bring my ankle up to my knee by grabbing the pant leg. I would have to stop in between each tie because my belly was pushing on my lungs. I started experiencing a numbing sensation in my feet when I was driving. I wanted to ask the doctor what was happening but I avoided it. After I lost 50 lbs that problem ceased. I couldn’t fit into a restaurant booth because my stomach pushed against the table. My husband and I were trying to get pregnant but we were unsuccessful for 1 year. I talked to my OBGYN and she nicely said I was obese. She informed me that the chances of me getting pregnant was greatly decreased with weight. That situation depressed me a great deal. I didn’t think I would have this much of a problem with pregnancy.
Q: So, you took the first step. Can you describe how that felt? Scared, excited, determined, all of the above?
A: I was excited and felt empowered that I reached out to a friend so I could join her at a Weight Watchers meeting. I do remember beating myself up for allowing myself to go back to bad habits after I had lost weight in 2007-2008. When I got over that guilt, I said I deserve to be happy and healthy. I decided the word of the year in 2012 would be “determination”. I would do what ever it took to make my goals happen. I recall telling everyone I knew, that I joined Weight Watchers and Zip Fitness.
Q: I saw a great quote on Twitter today – Procrastination is One of those Excuses, Born of Fear, that we Use to Keep Ourselves Stuck" ~Wayne Dyer
Was there ever a moment when you wanted to give up, maybe thinking it’s so much easier to stay this way than to change?
A: Before I joined Weight Watchers, I joined a park district group called Dance Your Gut Off where I got to do Zumba and have personal training through out the week. I maintained my weight because my eating habits were not healthy. When I stopped that program, I gained 20 more pounds. After that, I convinced myself that I should just embrace being full figured and be happy. After awhile, the Aha moments were too numerous for me to ignore.
There was never a time I wanted to quit. I was frustrated before Thanksgiving last year because for 5 weeks I went up 1 lb and went down 1 lb. That pattern kept consistent. I mixed it up with eating and exercise that I was able to get out of that plateau.
Q: Aside from eating the right foods in the right amounts and exercising, what have been your other keys to success?
A: I used to be a big fast food eater and had every meal at McDonalds because I drove past it on my way to work. When I started Weight Watchers, I cut that bad habit out. I now pack healthy snacks for the car ride so I am not tempted to stop. I attend weekly meetings at Weight Watchers and I share every time what I did each week. I like how we can bounce around ideas for new recipes or insights with weight loss at the meetings.
When I first started I went through magazines and cut out sayings I really liked. I put together a vision board on cork board (now Pinterest serves this purpose). I also listed my goals I wanted to accomplish for short and long term goals. Those goals were the following: organize weekly healthy meals, get healthy by losing weight and exercise, fit into pink dress for wedding in August, fit on a roller coaster ride by next year, get off of high blood pressure meds, and become a Weight Watchers Lifetime Member. I accomplished a lot of those goals and still working on some. I continue to make new goals do I stay focused and motivated.
I post my weigh in results on Facebook and Twitter. I get a lot of support from friends and family on Facebook. After a month on my weight loss journey, I started a blog about my weekly progress and challenges. That site is http://pixiegwynhealth.com . Through that blog I met other like minded bloggers that I learned from. I also found that people were interested in how my journey was going and what I was doing. I didn’t think it mattered to anyone but it did. I started to inspire others. Family and friends joined me with Weight Watchers or they started to track their foods. I then wanted to help others with their weight loss journey so I started a Facebook page that was named Pixie Health. That Facebook page turned into Gwynspiration for Weight Loss when my blog idea with Chicago Now was approved. I’m so excited to be blogging at www.chicagonow.com/gwynspiration-weight-loss. I want to help others and I have seen wonderful new developments from the blog already.
I work out at Zip Fitness and I have developed supportive friendships there. We encourage each other with our fitness routines. It’s such a welcoming community. The manager, Anthony, was excited about my progress that he shared my story with his boss, Jim (one of the owners). They asked if they could have my story told on a Youtube video. I was pumped to have my story heard. That link is http://youtu.be/XnBLJcKi0UM I was also asked to be in their TV commercial and they uploaded it onto youtube. That link is http://youtu.be/RLDYG5W4Hgk Having these experiences has really kept me motivated to want to go on. Zip Fitness has a weight lifting program called ActivTrax. I’m able to get my weight lifting routine and track my progress on their kiosk. I’m currently working on training for a 5k and I want to run the entire time. I have never done that before and I’m excited for that accomplishment. I downloaded the couch to 5K app on my phone and three days a week, I train for the 5K. I weight lift 4 days a week and do Abs every work out day. Having mini goals through out the month is helpful with keeping my motivation.
My husband and son are very supportive of my efforts. My son comes with me to every Weight Watchers meeting and cheers me on. I’m also able to text or call different people in my life and talk to them about my frustrations and excitement. I have surrounded myself with a lot of positive supports. I feel my success is also on the fact that I can track my foods on my smartphone. The phone goes with me where ever I go and it’s easy to look up points plus so I can make good decisions on what to eat. I also have an activity monitor with Weight Watchers called Activelink. This activity monitor helps with a total awareness of your overall daily movement. I have become an opportunist for movement. I will do lunges while waiting in line or squats at the doctors office. I will also get up and walk around while a TV commercial is on. I have been known to use the playground as my step board while my son would play.
Q: I do this thing with negative people ... cut them out! I don't want negativity in my orbit. Have you encountered any naysayers?
A: When I first started I ran into some people that would ask me if I should be eating that since I was on a diet. I would say yes because I have the points. I had a situation that people stopped talking to me or being my Facebook friend because I had lost more weight and they saw that my attitude was more confident. I feel it was their issue and not really about me. After I had lost 70 lbs I found some people would ask me if I was done losing weight yet. I would tell them that I want to be a Weight Watchers Leader and for that to happen I need to have a healthy BMI of 25%. They would give me a talk about not letting Weight Watchers determine my goals and for me to not get too skinny. I have learned about health risks to obesity and I want to be healthy for me…not Weight Watchers. I stopped telling some people of my progress because they would criticize my efforts. I don’t need negative people in my life because that is draining to keep up with.
Q: Do you find yourself laughing more now? Is @SmileyGwyn smiling more than ever? I can only imagine your inside is benefitting as much as your outside.
A: My nickname growing up was Smiley. A neighbor was convinced that I smiled in my sleep. I have always been a smiley person but since I am high on life and seeing wonderful things come my way, I have been smiling more. I even found myself smiling when I was working out and listening to music. Working out gives me joy. My friends say that I’m a lot happier and confident person since I have lost the weight. I believe that is true. When I go on work interviews, I look them in the eye and give them examples of my work experiences. I recall a time when I cried a lot and yelled at my family. I’m much calmer and warm spirited.
Q: Let’s go back 10 years. What advice would you give 23 year old Gwyn?
A: When I was 23 years old, I just finished grad school for Social Work. I would say to my young self to take the opportunity to learn Spanish because finding a job in Social Work is limited without being bilingual. You’re a beautiful lady with goals and don’t let anyone get in the way of those goals. Keep on walking like you have been doing in Berwyn and learning to cook healthy meals. You will feel better about yourself when you are working on health and fitness. Gwyn, continue to love yourself for yourself because you can’t give love to someone else until that happens. Keep on keeping on girlie girl!
Q: And what advice do you have for someone who was in your position one year ago?
A: You are not alone in this journey. You are important and don't waste another second being unhappy with yourself. What has happened in the past is over, learn from that and set new goals. Surround yourself with positive and supportive people because willpower alone will not help you. Be patient with yourself and try to change one bad habit at a time. Keeping a food journal on paper or on your phone is a step in the right direction so you can become aware of your food choices. Portion control is very important. You can eat what you want but within moderation. Shop on the outer perimeter of the grocery store because the fresh fruit, veggies, lean meats, and low fat dairy are located in those areas. Schedule activity time each day for at least 20 minutes. Post positive affirmations on your refrigerator such as I am worth it, I can lose this weight, I love myself. Set small obtainable goals.
Q: And, of course, since this is Stop and Blog the Roses, aside from your weight loss, what are you grateful for today?
A: I am grateful for my family. Some family members are spread out over the states but I can always count on them to be a listening ear or someone to cheer me on. I’m grateful for my faith in God. I pray often and thank him for my continued blessings. With that said, I’m grateful for my church. I’m able to worship, watch babies, sing, dance, socialize, and cry at my church. I love being involved with this wonderful community of believers. I’m grateful for my outgoing personality that smiles and says hi to anyone walking down the street. I’m grateful that I can develop goals to work towards and have others join in with me for the excitement. I’m grateful for my lifelong friends and new friends. I have learned so much from them and I feel complete having friends in my life. I’m grateful for my ability to be creative with sewing, dance, beading necklaces, drawing art and scrapbooking. I love the arts and it keeps my mind busy and happy. I’m grateful for the sun shining down on me when my mind is cloudy and my ability to get out of that funk.
Thank you @SmileyGwyn! Congratulations and see you on Twitter and, hopefully, our next ChicagoNow event!