In true Transformation Tuesday style, I have quite the incredible story to share with you today. At nearly 70 years-old (yes…SEVENTY!), Jo took the reigns on her life and started her own transformation. After losing half of her body weight and maintaining her weight loss for 2 years, Jo is eager to share her story in hopes of inspiring others to do the same. Believe it or not, Jo’s story reads like many of the (some of your) stories I hear every day…she has suffered abuse, a food addiction, neglect, and the list goes on…before she finally chose to transform her life. Her story is heartbreaking and unimaginable. Get ready to be inspired…;)
From Victim to Victorious: A Picture of Transformation
By Jo Campbell
My name is Jo Campbell, and I am a 71 year-old woman who has lost 50% of her body weight and kept it off for almost 2 years. Having battled food all my life, I felt STUCK in the fat, unlovable single mom zone. Our own and others’ perceptions of us can become our reality, and my perception was that I was flawed and unlovable and just about everything was my fault. I was a victim, and I lived it out every day of my life, as though setting out to prove my perceptions were correct.
From the outside, we looked like a perfect little family. I had a mommy and a daddy and an older brother. But on the inside, it wasn’t always very pretty. My brother had a problem—today we would say he was autistic. My parents spent a lot of time and energy trying to figure out how to relate to him, and, well, I didn’t require that amount of energy, so I didn’t get all that attention. So I turned to food. It provided comfort and that translated to love—it was always there for me. I was left to drift through life never quite understanding what was really wrong with my brother and feeling as though it was somehow my fault.
My Mom died when I was 15 and my dad’s alcoholism escalated. Two years later he married a very nice lady who just happened to own a liquor store, and two years after that, he died of alcoholism. Both of them told me days before they died that I was right, they didn’t love me—my worst fears were now truth. I went to a local business school, got a job, and got married. I was pretty heavy when we married, but after having two children in twelve months and four days, I was obese and weighed 255 lbs. at 5’3.” I took the whole “eating for two” quite literally! I joined Weight Watchers and lost 40 lbs., but became pregnant again and had to drop out. I started WW a few months after delivery and discovered I was pregnant AGAIN. This time, however, I continued the program, reaching my goal three weeks after giving birth. I felt great and looked great, and then with four children under five, my husband left me for another woman. I am not real sure of all the messages that sent to my “Victim Brain,” but having my husband walk out when I had just lost all that weight was a lot to process. Unfortunately, at that time, I didn’t have much support, and with the stress of the total support of four children, I sunk into a depression, which equated with thoughts of suicide and reaching out to food for comfort. I was 28 years old and STUCK in the Victim Mindset for sure!
A few years later, I met and married a man I hardly knew and discovered he was on drugs, dealing drugs, and gambling. Needless, to say this marriage didn’t last very long, but God is faithful to bring something good out of something bad. He gave me a beautiful baby daughter—my precious child number five.
There is a lot more I could tell you, jobs—getting them, losing them, etc., but what I want you to see is that I was STUCK. I believed that my circumstances defined who I was. I was an overweight, unlovable single mom, and I always would be.
During this time, I tried starving myself—one time for 40 days—and made other unhealthy choices that messed up my metabolism and led to more yo-yo dieting. Then He blessed me with the opportunity to raise and adopt my granddaughter—my precious child number six. But I could not get rid of the weight or that victim mentality, mostly because I didn’t even recognize it. I would always let it seep into a conversation that I was a single mom with six kids, and I would usually add that my first husband left me with four children under the age of five. I am not sure, but I was probably trying to deflect attention from my weight by encouraging people to feel sorry for me. This was my mindset for many years.
Fast forward—in 2011, my two youngest daughters each had a baby, and I was so excited! I was in “MiMi” heaven, and this is when the transformation started. I had been hiding from what I looked like for so long, and now I was seeing lots of pictures of these precious babies and me. I didn’t like what I saw. I longed to be an involved, fun Mimi for these boys, but my weight was a HUGE hindrance. I began to understand that I had a choice and that I wanted to choose to be healthy, and so began a quest to understand what physical and emotional health looked like. I made a decision in August 2012 to take care of the body He had given me by eating healthy whole foods and using portion control.
By Christmas, I had lost about 50 lbs., and in January, I started the new year with a pedometer and a few family members who wanted to compete. I began to see how little I was moving and challenged myself each day to take a few steps more. I worked my way up to the recommended 10,000 steps per day, and I’m now walking 20,000 to 30,000 steps per day. I have always allowed myself a bite or two of favorite foods on the premise that if I tell myself I can’t have something, the more I want it, but now I reward myself with fresh flowers more than food.
By the fall of 2013, I had lost 115 lbs. I don’t EVER remember being that weight! It was just in time for my daughter’s wedding, and I was so proud to walk her down the aisle. It was a much different experience from my other daughter’s wedding in 2009 when I weighed 230 lbs.
FREEDOM is amazing. My outlook on life is so different. I am so proud of who I am and of my perseverance, and I’m so happy to be me for the first time in my life. I no longer blame others for my circumstances, but am thankful for the opportunities they have given me to grow and learn. I continue to educate myself on healthy habits, and I have learned so much and have been so inspired by the work Chris and Heidi do with people who have so much weight to lose.
- Transformation is a lot about perspective. Once you choose to not let your circumstances define you and make you a victim, you’ve already taken that first step on your transformation journey.
- It’s easy to let one bump in the road—no matter the size—derail you on your transformation journey. They key is to recognize those bumps for what they are, learn from them, and use that knowledge to help you achieve your goals.
- Once you reach your transformation goal, that is not the end! Keep educating yourself and setting new goals to continually change your life for the better.
- Age is not a factor in achieving any transformation goal. As Jo told me in her email, “It is NEVER too late for transformation!!!”
I hope you’ve been as inspired by Jo’s story as I have and that it’s given you some things to think about as you work to achieve your own goals!
Are you, or someone you know, on the weight loss journey of a lifetime? I want to hear about it! Send your transformation tale to [email protected] for the opportunity to have your story shared right here on the blog.
Want more inspiration? Check out these other amazing at-home transformations: