Me Mondays - Felicia Ryan

Next up for Me Mondays is Felicia Ryan.  In May of 2014, she decided it was time to quit her job and focus on her own Life Coaching Business (Body-Wise Life Coaching).  She continues to write and do public speaking about her journey.  She shared a little with us below.

Felicia Before and After.jpg

In 2001, at 33 years old I weighed 300 lbs. I was locked in a life or death struggle. I had trouble buckling a seat belt. I struggled to climb stairs. I needed help tying my own shoes. Among my many debilitating health issues, I had high blood pressure, hypothyroidism, sleep apnea, two herniated discs in my lower back, asthma, allergies, irregular periods, and elevated blood sugar levels. I deemed myself a failure.

Major NERD ALERT! I felt like a small hobbit lumbering around in the body of an Orc. My swollen body was pushed past its frame. When my Doctor urged me to lose weight for the umpteenth time I felt completely unprepared for my weight loss quest. Losing weight for me was like dragging bags of rocks up a hill and stopping along the way to collect more.

Through individual and group therapy I excavated the deep dark scary places within myself. I found true hidden treasures. My reliance on food was a coping mechanism that I used to tune out painful memories. I reestablished healthy boundaries with my friends and family. I changed my default answer from a “yes, because I am afraid you’ll be mad at me” to “let me think about whether I really want to do that or not”. This was BEFORE I lost ANY weight. The changes revealed slowly as I was able to navigate the dark tunnel of my past with a brightly lit torch. I learned that my week didn’t have to be ruined if I ate a cookie or the whole damn bag of cookies. Some days this new tool of self-compassion worked and others I still hid the sneakers in the back of my closet and avoided the gym like it was Mordor. 

After many years of therapy, nutritionists, weight watchers, shakes, diet plans, physical therapists, doctors, and chiropractors, I elected to have gastric bypass surgery in 2007. Weight loss surgery put me in better touch with my body. I finally figured out what hunger felt like. Every day I repeated a mantra to myself “If I never lose another pound I will be okay -- wherever I land.” Some days I believed this and others it felt like I was picking up the bag of rocks again.

I threw every tool imaginable in my arsenal at sustaining my changes including; power thought cards, hypnotherapy, coaching, journaling, blogging, public speaking, energy work, Reiki, massage therapy, dream analysis, guided meditation CDs, a personal trainer, as well as yoga. I walked and rode my bike. I reclaimed my inner warrior with karate. I took a lot of nutritional supplements. Your body heals best when it’s at rest so I napped. I established a healthy routine of well-balanced eating which I follow to this day. It includes eliminating soda, caffeine, and limiting sugar, alcohol, refined carbs, heavily processed and fried foods. I eat lots of protein and fresh veggies and small amounts of fruit. I drink at least 80 ounces of water throughout the day. I always eat breakfast and 3 small snacks throughout the day. I religiously get 8 hour of sleep and make time to rest/meditate and play.

Even though my weight has stabilized at 165lbs and I am 7 years post-surgery I feel light years away from my “fat” mindset. My awareness of my body, its capacity and limitations, are different now at 46. I love to challenge myself with Poise, Barreworke, and Yin Yoga classes at Studio Poise. I feel taller, more graceful and elegant as I move through the world. During Yin Yoga my overactive mind rambles “You can’t possibly hold this pose. Your hamstrings are so tight they will rip like brittle rubber bands.” I treat those thoughts like sweet but unnecessary advice.  Negative thoughts still creep in like dirty little trolls “My thighs are unworthy. They are lumpy and gross.” Then I remember that my thighs are pretty awesome.

The changes have cascaded and swept through my life. I was not just changing my health I was creating a mindset that propelled me forward in ways I could not have imagined. I switched careers and left marketing for a life-long passion to be a Life Coach. I lost more than 125 lbs. and completely transformed the way I moved through the world. I conquered smoking and finally quit. I ended a long term relationship after 16 years with compassion and respect. I moved after 22 years of living in the same familiar shire. I started a new relationship and now I have a “bonus” kid. It is a privilege to engage and guide her as she grows up.

Unlike the magical hobbit quest what I realized is there is no single solution or magic ring, pill, potion, doctor, shake, machine, workout, treatment, or diet that made my weight loss journey successful. My world expanded when I realized I had the courage to lay down my sword and stop fighting myself.  I needed friends and coaches to help me along my quest. There were times I would have settled for hobbit feet if it meant I could lose weight. It would have seriously limited my shoe options. I am lucky that I didn’t have to slay any dragons or be anything other than myself. I am smaller now physically but my spirit feels bigger and brighter than it ever was. I am forever changed and grateful for each step in my journey.

Felicia your journey and outlook on life is so inspirational - thank you for being part of SP and sharing your story!