Merci hits 100 lbs Gone in 10 Months!
May 14, 2017
100 lbs Loss Date
March 12, 2018
Modified Rawkinator Diet
Walking, Yoga, Swimming, Dance
Merci has dropped half her weight, 100 lbs in 10 Months and is starting on her next hundred with us. Coming to camp with 200 lbs to lose is daunting. It feels overwhelming and impossible. No one likes to diet, but to know that you are looking at 18 months to 2 years to reach goal can dissuade even the most determined. But, Merci is proving that it doesn’t have to feel so daunting. She isn’t letting her weight stop her from living her life. She does yoga, sings on stage, goes to concerts and just has lots of fun. Attitude is everything.
Learn from Merci. See that while a weight loss journey isn’t always easy if truly wanted, can be done. Her message is for all women regardless of how much you have to lose. Whether you choose our fast weight loss methods and do it with us at RFBC or you go a different route, know from what Merci has done and is doing, that it is possible. Never lose hope. It is through hope that we inspire and can be inspired by others.
Merci’s 100 lbs gone before and afters.
I asked Merci if she would answer some questions for us to help others learn the truth behind a journey like hers so you can see if you too might find success over your weight.
Merci, first big congrats on losing 100 lbs. Before you started camp you had gone back to school to get your degree which you accomplished. Then you took a Yoga Teacher Training course while still 200 lbs overweight and became certified. Now you have lost your first 100 lbs in 10 months. I know all of these achievements were important to you and succeeding at the first two gave you the confidence you could achieve weight loss as well. What I wanted to ask was what has motivated you to take on your life and make so many positive, yet hard to achieve milestones. What has been the driving force?
I think it was the “what the hell am I doing with my life?” question that started things. As I approached my late 30s, I was looking at my life and was disappointed that I had nothing to show for it really. I still hadn’t finished school, no babies, failing marriage, no records, no world tours, no 401K or assets, and not only was I not skinny but I was the heaviest I had ever been and gaining. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper and life is too short to be otherwise. School was only going to be harder and more expensive the longer I waited and I could either let another year go by with a degree or without one. My academic journey was challenging beyond the average student similar to the way that my weight loss journey has been extra hard simply because of the amount of weight I am losing. It was a long hard haul. Graduating was extremely empowering and I felt like a dark cloud that had been following me for my entire life had finally left and was replaced by sunshine. Fresh on that high, I thought “Well what else can I do now?” I had been stalking RFBC online for a year or two but I had wanted to wait until school was over to be able to fully focus on my weight loss. (And actually, I saw RFBC way back in 2006 when the first light bulb about raw foods turned on for me but I thought it was too hard at the time. I wish I had chosen this pathway back then because I really think my whole life would have been different and much sooner.) A few days after graduation, I joined RFBC at 380lbs and lost 25lbs in the first month. The walking was really hard to do physically but it got easier and I started to remember how well the body functions and heals when cared for. My lowest weight as an adult was at 230-ish pounds many years ago, back when I had been a personal trainer and a belly dance instructor at a women’s gym. I remembered that I was most successful with my health when exercise and physical activity was my job every day. I had studied yoga in my early 20s for a bit but I never had a consistent yoga practice. Because I wanted to reconnect with my body and do work that supported my health goals, I signed up for a 4-week yoga teacher training at 340lbs and 6 weeks into my RFBC journey. I also knew it would be a great boost on my weight loss. It was the hardest thing I have ever done and I almost quit entirely on the second day. I cried on the mat daily sometimes just face down in child’s pose in a puddle of tears repeating to myself, “just breathe and stay on the mat”. I got through it and lost another 10 lbs that month. So actually achieving my academic goals gave me the confidence to join RFBC and tackle my weight loss goals and then my initial weight loss success with RFBC gave me the confidence to finally go ahead and pursue the yoga teacher training. Also seeing that tampon commercial with Jessamyn Stanley doing yoga as a plus size person with her body and belly exposed but in yoga clothes was absolutely inspiring for me toward getting back to yoga and having a general attitude of “Who cares what others see or think?! This is where I’m at! Let’s do this!”
Many who have a lot of weight to lose become overwhelmed with the number and give up long before reaching the halfway point as you have. What keeps you inspired and motivated. I know RFBC does and the women at camp but what I think your fans want to know is that inner drive. How do you keep it lit?
It is exactly like the fire challenge on Survivor but in slow motion stretched over many months instead of minutes. The truth is that inner fire goes out regularly. I have to re-light it A LOT and sometimes I have to find a new lighter or a new way when the old one doesn’t work anymore until I can hopefully get a good flame burning. I am emotional and it doesn’t take much for me to feel overwhelmed by positive or negative emotions until I consider the alternative. In this game, as well as on the show, it is life or death and you either let the overwhelming make you quit and give up or you choose to keep lighting your fire and fight for your life. I already lived the first half of my life doing things the other not-fun way and I already know what it was like. It sucked! Now I want to live my life the other much more fun way and see what that’s like. What is it like to live like healthy happy people do? I have no idea but I wanna find out!
You do a version of our Rawk Starz diet with walking and yoga as your exercise. Will you continue this throughout your journey or now that you have lost so much is there a desire to go slower without as much effort?
I also swim and dance whenever I can. The only desire to go slower comes from exhaustion and the whiney “are we there yet?” voice from the back seat. However, I knew going into this that no matter how much you have to lose, the beginning losses come easier and faster, which means you have to hit the gas and work harder as the terrain changes and you get further along. Like driving downhill and then giving it gas a couple beats before the uphill climb in order to get over the next hill. The mind and body adapt swiftly and need variations and upgraded challenges along the way in order to progress. Gotta change it up otherwise you’re just coasting, which has its own fun time and place but that’s not what we are here for.
How has your health changed over the past 10 months?
I am more nimble! I don’t get winded as easily as before. My knees hurt less. My vision problems have cleared up. My sex life is phenomenally better. I did start taking supplements and using different shampoo to help combat the hair loss and thinning that often accompanies weight loss. I wish I had been doing that from the start actually because it may have helped prevent hair loss. I know it grows back eventually etc but… The biggest health change happened only two weeks after I started with RFBC. After having irregular menstrual cycles for my entire adult life and after many meds, doctor visits, herbs, acupuncture, my cycle completely set itself to normal for the first time ever. It is a revelation to have it be so consistent and punctual. That alone tells me that this is powerful medicine and that there a million more little miracles happening on a cellular level in my body every day that I will never see but I know they are there. I have a couple of other health issues that I was hoping would clear up but maybe that is still to come.
How has your self-esteem changed over the past 10 months? Do you feel more powerful, more in charge of your own destiny?
I had lost myself. I definitely feel more powerful and more like my old self and I am singing more now. I am fitting into old clothes from a time when I was chasing my dreams. Even in the beginning when I was still 360, 320, I already had better self-esteem because I felt like even though I wasn’t thinner or healthier in ways that others could really see I took comfort and gave myself pride and confidence knowing that I was on the path toward health finally. Just the fact that I was doing something about it made me feel better about myself and improved my perception of myself. It was like I finally gave myself permission to stop beating myself up and feeling bad about being overweight. And that is HUGE! (Pun intended.)
What would you consider the biggest change this great success has brought to you.
Reclamation of myself. I don’t ever want to feel like I wasted time like that ever again. Life is too short to not do what you love and be the most amazing version of yourself. Even more is that when I raise myself, others I know, and many I don’t know, come along with me for the ride, just like we are all here with you, Carlene, defying the odds and rising from the dead fat-suit cemetery. (Hey, maybe that is your next Halloween project!)
Moving forward, how sure do you feel that you will reach your goal weight and be able to maintain it and why.
It depends on the day. I visualize it and believe in it but realistically I’m not always totally sure I will get to goal and sometimes that worries me. That “fear of failure” voice and the “fat brain” voice chime in together, I suppose. However, I AM sure that it is a conscious choice to get to goal and maintain it and I have to choose to make it happen. I have to make a series or an accumulation of healthy choices to get there. And as long as I learn from any unhealthy choices along the way, I am ok with that because it is also part of the journey. Thankfully, RFBC has given me a possible path, a road map, on how to get there but I still have to walk it, swim it, yoga it, fruit it, drive it, in order to reach my goals and keep them close. For example, there are many places I wish to travel to in my life. Am I sure I will get to visit all of them? Nope, because life happens but I know that if I really want to go to Switzerland or Ireland or Hawaii, I have to make a conscious effort and take steps to make those adventures happen. In fact, one of my rewards to myself for losing 100lbs is to get my passport renewed along with a new photo so that I can fulfill those travel dreams. As for getting to goal, and perhaps beyond, and then maintaining my weight loss and health, I know I have never done it before but I know that I CAN if that is what I really want to do.
I have no idea about maintenance because I might feel different by then and it still feels too soon to make too many plans about it. To get to goal – and beyond – I have a LOT of new work to do. I think really making fitness part of my career again will be important, I still need to find solutions for getting through my moon cycle every month, setting up timelines, rewards, and small goals along the way that have specific weight limits like indoor skydiving, zip lining, horseback riding, doing more yoga, sticking to my planner and the new rules I have set up for myself, and fully embodying the version of myself that lives a healthy happy life. I am working on making choices from her head and heart space instead of the old version of myself. I am also working on forgiveness and dealing with my anger issues surrounding obesity and health. I plan to dive deeper into walking and fruiting, and exploring the world with healthy eyes instead of through the lens of a suffering food addict.
And finally, some cred comes our way. How much did having the support of women who understood your journey play in your great success?
It makes all the difference in the world. I am very blessed to have a circle of women in my life that I rely on for spiritual work so I fully understand and appreciate the power of healing in numbers. The RFBC community was the kind of help, accountability, understanding, and learning from each other that I didn’t have in my life but had been looking for. I am very independent and prefer to do things alone. However, I had tried for years to lose weight alone in a world that supports food addiction and I was surrounded by well-intending loved ones who struggle with the same things. Haha! Funny how that never ever worked. I consider myself a strong individual but I really can’t imagine anyone getting through this kind of life-changing thing without community support and that circle of people that help keep you in the game. No one is an island…but let’s reboot – or maybe “re-suit” – into our healthiest bodies and go there to the island together! (I just gotta wait for my new smaller bathing suit to arrive because my current one is too big! How fun is that?!)
How much did a simplistic diet help to stay on track?
I already knew the benefits and greatness of raw foods for years, so I didn’t need any convincing of its value, I just needed to execute a major shift in habit and mindset. Some people might think “Oh no! Not smoothies and salads every day!”, but then what was I doing before? The same drive-thru junk foods every day or the same frozen processed crap day in and day out. Eating the same thing with some variation wasn’t a big deal because I was already doing that, I just needed to do that with healthier food. People think or tend to say its so much more work and it’s not. It is just different work and a different way to eat that takes adjusting just like anything else. And often it is much simpler than eating out or eating junk. My version of fast food is only a grocery store away. I’m choosing my food consciously instead of being a slave to my fat brain cravings. It is one less decision to make because I already made it when I wasn’t tired or stressed or emotional. And (poof!) I don’t even have to leave to go get it because its already in my cooler bag right here. I always have some extra to share. Sometimes it feels isolating to be the weird girl with the giant cooler bag of “other food”, but mostly I’m the cool chic with the zucchini noodles that smell amazing when I open the jar and others are wishing they had some, instead of the unhealthy choice they made for the day. I love that the minimal steaming I do is not hard or lots of work, yet it allows me to still enjoy cooking. And the DISHES!! The clean up is soooo much easier than greasy stuck on gunky stuff. My digestion is sooo much better. And now that my body is used to healthy stuff, when I do eat off plan it is very uncomfortable right away and my body rebels, reminding me “Hey dummy! We don’t process this garbage anymore! Don’t do that!” I had also been brainwashed into the whole story that fruit is bad cause its carbs BS. Once I started counting calories and realizing how much bang I get for my buck on a bowl of strawberries versus a bowl of Chinese takeout or a sandwich I was shocked and amazed I was still standing upright after years of eating thousands of calories a day or even in one meal. Raise your hand if you have ever habitually eaten a whole pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and half of a frozen pizza either alone or with a partner and called it dinner? Insanity!! Or a whole box of donuts with zero nutrition and all fat causing ingredients of oil and sugar? That is how you get to 380 pounds. And yet fruit gets a bad wrap? Why they gotta hate? LOL Because we live in a greedy world that wants our money and eating fruit and being healthy and in control of your own life doesn’t make money for others who have no interest in your health or well being. Mother Nature makes it look simple but natural whole foods are well-designed with complex multidimensional layers of health and wellness that we still don’t even fully understand, so why would we want to stray from that? To me, a simplistic diet is not only the best way for our planet and our bodies to function with health and happiness, but it makes losing weight and gaining health, easy and accessible to anyone who has the desire to do so.
If you could stand before a hundred women with 200+ lbs to lose what is it you would tell them to convince them that the struggle, time and effort is worth it. I’m not talking doing the same diet or joining RFBC, I’m talking about convincing them that they can do this if they truly want it. Just like you.
I would say to them, you have suffered long enough and you have been lied to. We all have, even those of us who think we are Miss Smartypants. Trust me. And you should be angry! Don’t waste another breath trying to understand why or how or who, just turn tail and run as fast as you possibly can toward your best life by taking amazingly good care of your body in whatever way is the opposite of what you have been doing. You have choices for harm or for health in every moment and you hold all the power to make the choices that create your best life. Truly healthy eating resides in the sunshine found in every fruit and vegetable and true health can be found in the inner sunshine that lives in every cell of your all-knowing beautiful body. And if you find others running toward their true health, do what they do, learn from them, inspire them with your own amazingness, and flip this world of disease, suffering, exploitation, industrialized foods, and excessive prescription drugs on its backside. We not only have the power to reverse diseases like diabetes and obesity in our individual lives, but we can change the whole world just by changing how we eat. It is so simple, so strong, and so needed in our world. This simplistic way of eating real foods is a path of sovereignty and is really making myself the leader of my own free world. Imagine what healing and magical things could happen if this way of healthy living was embraced by the majority. And if none of that appeals to you, think of how awesome it will be to wear boots’n’jeans in the fall this year and a bikini next summer. I’ve never worn a bikini ever, but that day is comin’ soon, so stay tuned!