It’s my favorite People Magazine issue of the year, the “Half Their Size” edition, and it’s out today! Side note- if you want credible celebrity gossip, People is the only option.
Yesterday, I made it home in time to catch the end of Anderson Live (love him!) and saw a great interview with fellow Gen Y-er, Shannon Newhouse. This incredible woman lost half her weight, and has gone on to be featured in the latest issue of People. I was so inspired by her story, I asked her if she would share a little bit about her life with us, her journey, and her exciting future.
Shannon, before (at left)
Was weight something you had struggled with your entire life?
Yes. I was always a chubby kid, and bigger growing up, at least 30-40 lbs. overweight. In my early 20’s, things seemed to start spiraling out of control. I just ate whatever I wanted, and didn’t think twice about it. I will admit, I ate way more of the amount that someone should. I knew it wasn’t normal, but kept at it and gained so much weight that I weighed 324 lbs. by age 23.
One thing I really loved about your interview was how down to earth you are. You’re very easy to relate to. It was refreshing when you said, you’re a normal girl, with a normal job, a normal amount of money, and you just had to work towards your goal. How did you get started?
Well, thank you!! When my doctor told me I was obese, I knew I had to do something. I didn’t want to live this way anymore, and knew it was only going to get worse. I swallowed my pride, and signed up for Weight Watchers. It was affordable, and you were weighed once a week, so you really knew your results. If you only lost .8 that week, or lost 5 another week you could stop, think, and compare. What did you do different? Also, I signed up for the local gym. It was $10 a month! Cmon, I had no excuses. So I went, and walked and walked and walked my butt off! When I got more comfortable and lost some weight, I’d do more things. I literally did my own thing and did it at my own pace. There was no rush with any of it, and I kept a lot of it to myself. It was enough pressure going to get weighed weekly, so I tried to keep it quiet. Plus, not broadcasting it helps keep a lot of peoples’ opinions away on “how” you should do it. There is no “how” someone should do it, it’s more like what is the right option for you. Everyone’s body is so different. It is trial and error.
How did you get your mom involved?
Mom was my go-to person. I vented to her a lot, and admitted things to her I didn’t want to admit to anyone else. I told her I was embarrassed that I had gotten so big. She was my cheerleader. Once she started seeing my progress, she decided to lose some weight again, (as she tends to fluctuate) and started seeing results, too. We were just there for each other. The People Magazine thing was a surprise to her. I wrote them, she didn’t know. When we actually got a call, she was so surprised and did this for me. Mom is pretty shy, so it means a lot that she would do this.
What kept you going during your weight loss journey?
What kept me going was just pure motivation and determination. I was so sick of trying and failing, so this time it was game on. Seeing the weight come off week by week, and totaling up my month’s weight loss was awesome to see. Weight Watchers is cool because it is weekly, and you SEE the progress first hand. When you see you lost 8 lbs. in your first week, you’re ready for more! What also kept me going was just seeing the looks on peoples faces that I shared my experience with. They were so into it! I just wanted to tell everyone about my journey and answer questions. So that kept me going towards the end. I never was active growing up. I knew nothing about health, or sports, or keeping your body at a healthy weight. I’ve changed all that and do things I never thought were possible. Now I live and breathe it! I’m a normal person who did it, and others can do it too!
In your chat with Anderson, you mentioned that overwhelming conversation that many people have with their doctors, when the doctor says they need to lose 100 lbs or more. How do you process such a huge goal like that? Did you set small goals for yourself to meet? Set a specific timeline?
I knew at age 23, I wasn’t ready for my life to be over. I never set a timeline. I figured it took this long to gain it all, it could take a while to lose it all, but why not try? I’m living this life, why not see if I can do this? I totally set small goals though. You need to give yourself credit where it’s deserved and sometimes stop to look at the big picture. A little goes a LONG way. Waiting 2-3 years to lose weight is only a small price to pay to live dozens more.
What’s one tip you would give to the many people looking to make a healthier new year and new lifestyle in 2013?
Make goals reachable. Don’t say, “Im losing 50 lbs in 2 months”. Do your research on fad diets and try something that works with your life and schedule. It’s not going to always be a diet, because this is something that’s going to become your lifestyle. So choose wisely. I’d also say keep things to yourself in order to not have unwanted pressure from loved ones. After all, this change is for you, so take your time and be patient. If you’re working hard and truly making an effort, you will see some type of change. If you don’t see change and you’re working hard, then you need to try something new. Things that work wonders for some don’t work for everyone.
How did you meet your fiance? How do you work together to stay healthy?
I met my fiance at a summer party that my friend brought me to. I had just broken up with a boyfriend of 5 years and had just lost my first 100 lbs. I had about 90 more to go at this time. Chris had also lost 75 lbs., so he was newly svelte. We met, and I knew I wanted to get to know him. He was dating someone, so it wasn’t the right time. Then, about a month later, I saw they had broken up and we started chatting, hung out again, and the rest is history! Since we both lost weight and now how it important it is to keep it off, we encourage each other. We root each other on and lean on one another when we gain a few lbs. He is wonderful with trying new foods. We vent, complain and cry when we get frustrated, but we have each other for that, and it’s a wonderful thing.
What was it like being on Anderson Live?
It was AMAZING! They were all so nice to Chris and me. They paid for our train and hotel, and we even stayed the night before so I could do the voice over. The whole experience was overwhelming! I can’t believe how calm I was. It was probably because of them treating me so kindly. I got my hair and make up done, too! It was wonderful and truly something I will never forget! I just want to share my story with others and shout it from the rooftops to show, it is possible.
What was it like to be featured in People Magazine?
It was also amazing. I remember when I got the call, I was in disbelief! All my hard work and all my letters have counted for something and now, it’s time! If I can inspire 1 person or 1000 people, the blood, sweat, and tears have been worth it! The photographer and makeup people came to my home to do the shoot. They were extremely down to earth and we had so much fun modeling and getting our hair and makeup done. I could not, and still cannot believe I’m in the magazine! I’m such a lucky girl!!!
Congratulations on your wedding! Are the plans all set? How do you deal with stressors (like wedding planning) when it comes to staying on track?
Thanks so much! I am over the moon that I get to marry my best friend! We are getting married on 8/31/2013 and we could not be happier! We have the venue, the DJ, and the church. I try on wedding gowns soon and am SO excited. To know I will be able to fit in an actual dress at the store excites me to no end! It’s the little things! But truly, this was something I dreaded when I was heavy, and now, could not be more excited! Managing stress is all about planning. I actually plan my day ahead of time! If I know im going to be eating out with the girls, I look online before I go so I’m not stressed when I get there and don’t feel pressure to pick a bad option. I do cheat on weekends, but I don’t overdo it! I like to eat healthy.
At the end of her segment, Anderson presented Shannon and her fiance Chris with a surprise honeymoon in Panama! A sweet, and well deserved surprise! See the clip here.