I first spoke with Theresa when she called to book a beach portrait session for her family. She wasn’t local, but her family was coming to the beach for a well-earned break. As we spoke, it was clear that this session meant a lot to her and she was excited to get professional images that reflected her family as they are today. As I got to know her through phone calls and emails, I became more and more intrigued. She had a story to tell. And she wanted images that would tell her story. A story of life changes. A story of overcoming. A story of joy. And most importantly, a story of a family working together to become better, stronger, happier, and healthier.
Here is her journey.
“In 2008 an illness set in, 6 months postpartum. By the time I reached the fourth neurologist, in 2010, I finally received a diagnosis of small fiber neuropathy and fibromyalgia. Along with all the medical issues, came $5,000 a year in prescriptions and medical bills. If I left home, the uncontrollable spasms and 24/7 vertigo caused me to have to walk with a cane. I had to use a mobility scooter in order to go shopping, get around our neighborhood, or on vacations and day trips.
During these years both Bobby and I increased in weight upwards of three hundred pounds. At our maximum weight, he was 315 and I was 298. We were hit with the realization that we were not starting Sharayah, our beautiful daughter, off in life with healthy habits, either. It was the fall of 2013 when we decided to start making changes.
Over a matter of a few months we began to eat healthier, cut sodas down to once a week, increase water intake, introduce doTerra's therapeutic grade essential oils/supplements, and added a metabolic booster called ACE. We begin to eat more salads and whole foods, and began cooking more at home, rather than eating out. We also reduced carbs. Mind you, we didn't completely get rid of these. We still had the occasional splurge of Ramen, spaghetti, or grilled cheese sandwiches. But over half of our meals turned to whole foods, vegetables, and fruits.
By spring of 2014, the doTerra supplements had done their job very well! I was no longer walking with a cane, but walking with much more confidence, and was off all meds (so many meds! - narcotics, sleep aides, psych, pain, blood pressure and nerve). The fog was lifting and I was once again becoming comfortable in my own body. My newfound mobility made me ready to try to work out. I eased into it, but was able to complete bouts of exercise regularly. I was moved to tears regularly at the miracle of being able to move again!
We plateaued in our weight loss, and decided it was time for more change. This time we decided it was time to go as organic and clean with all foods as possible. Switching over to cage-free eggs, grass-fed cow comma non GMO Foods. Switching from rice to quinoa, whole grain foods (instead of white foods) and exploring more about coconut oil, coconut flour, and almond flour. By the fall of 2014, we had lost a total of 50 pounds each! We were thrilled with the results, but knew that there was more in store for us.
By the end of 2014, we were ready for more! We added more working out at home, Bobby joined a 24-hour gym, and by March 2015 we started walking as a family. Our goal was to get to a playground that was 2 miles away from our home. For a person who had been unable to walk well for nearly six years, this seemed like a lofty goal. And it was! I had to be wise. You've heard people say one day at a time... Well, this was one driveway at a time. Meaning every day I walked whether it was consecutive days, or not, I only added one driveway per walk. By mid-summer we could reach the playground! Sharayah and I were now walking 4 miles a day. As a family, we walked a couple times a week when Bobby was off.
We started reading about the ways our bodies worked and decided to switch around some of our supplements. From proper workouts to intermittent fasting, we continued to make changes.
In the early fall 2015, we reached our goal of 100 pounds lost before our Disney vacation. We were walking 4 miles or more a day, capable of doing a small workout after that and eating the healthiest we ever had - in our entire lives! Bobby had added whey protein peanut butter milkshakes to his morning regimen. Twice a week, Sharayah and I were having whole fruits, yogurt, and almond milk smoothies for breakfast. Our overall eating became so healthy and energizing!
Bobby found additional modes of working out, to include Xbox One's serious physical fitness programs.
In the spring of 2016, we found ourselves walking again, losing weight, targeting small goals, meeting them, and settling back into healthier meal choices. We've chosen to go to a different playground this year, also two miles away from our house. We are presently one mile into our goal of a 4-mile walk and anticipate meeting it by the first day of summer.
I’ve learned to embrace small changes. Trying to change too much at one time can become overwhelming. We have enough to worry about with dishes, laundry, homework, after school activities, just trying to squeeze in some quality family time, friends, date nights... not to mention the distraction of TV, computers, smartphones, etc.
When you look at your future, know that's exactly what it is: your future. It takes time to get there. Set just one small goal at all time. Achieving those goals will become more and more exciting! With each small successfully achieved challenge, you become greater than the person you were before. Blessings.”
It all made sense… Theresa’s desire for new portraits. She wanted to showcase their family, their lives, their changes, and their journey. I am so very proud of this family! They did it together as a team. What an incredible journey! I was honored to capture these memories for them.