From Victim to Victorious: Jo’s Picture of Transformation

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…;)

HP_JoFinalBeforeandAfter

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.


Ahhhhhhh-mayzing, right? Here are a few of my takeaways from Jo’s story:

  • 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!

Xoxo,

Heidi

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:

Jill Cumming
Arenda Franken
Sara Hawes
Kari Ianuale
Kristen Kinney
Jared & Rochelle Vaines


15 Comments

  1. lori MacPherson - August 11, 2016

    the old adage its never too late fits right here…the most important thing is that you did it..no excuses and now you are a role model for so many…thank you for your inspiring story…

  2. Marsha - March 25, 2016

    Thank you, Jo, for your story! I’m 62 and about 80 lbs. overweight. I’ve started and re-started my weight loss journey so many times that I’m dizzy. I’ve got arthritic hips which hold me back from some exercises, but I know there are MANY that I could be doing; I just run out of motivation. I have printed pictures of Chris and Heidi and will post them throughout my apartment for encouragement. And I’ve decided to print a page that says, “REMEMBER JO”, too. You are a total inspiration and I’m determined to do it this time!! Sending love to you, Jo (and Heidi and Chris, too).

    • Jo - July 27, 2016

      Marsha
      I just read your encouraging note! Thank you so much. It’s a never ending struggle but totally worth it! Keep your eyes on the goal of becoming the best you ever❤️?Keep us posted on your progress!

  3. Jeannie - December 14, 2015

    I am 62, 205 lbs. @ 5’3″, and have struggled with my weight off and on most of my life. I did lose 30 lbs. last year and have gained 10 back. I keep thinking its a lost cause because of my age but you have shown me that we are never too old to get health. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • jo - December 16, 2015

      Thank you Jeanne. Hold on to your dream and keep your eyes on the goal. You can do this!!

  4. Abby - December 2, 2015

    I am extremely inspired by your story, Jo!
    I may be less than half your age, and have never married or had children…but YOU lost all of that weight despite all of those disadvantages life threw at you. And that is so amazing!
    I lost 60lbs my senior year of high school after being overweight all my life, but after a breakup a few years later I had to move back home and gained back 40lbs in only a few months…I am in a rut and trying to motivate myself to get back down to my “happy” weight. The one where I am active, lose my aches and grogginess, and don’t have to hide my double chin anymore in photos 🙂
    I am glad to have stumbled upon this blog post today, it’s made my day for sure!

    • Jo - December 5, 2015

      Abby
      Thank you so much for sharing your story! You can do this! Challenge your self to make the healthy choice and to move your body 🙂 you deserve a healthy lifestyle you desire. It really helps to have a friend to share your challenges And successes. Make this next year your year to succeed!
      Blessings
      Jo

  5. Jo - December 2, 2015

    Sharon
    YOU CAN DO THIS!! Just take it one day at a time. Make being healthy your goal and don’t beat yourself up when you fall- just keep on going!
    Thanks for your encouragement❤️

  6. April - December 2, 2015

    I have started on the same journey and am 65. I thought I was too old. Your story gives me hope. I’ve lost 13 lbs. of the 90 I need to lose. Thank you for sharing your amazing story.

    • Jo - December 2, 2015

      April! Way to go!!! Keep on making healthy choices and move your body!! You WILL get there!!!
      Thank you for your kind words!

  7. Kelly - December 1, 2015

    So inspirational!!!! So very proud of you Jo!!!

  8. Robbie Leech - December 1, 2015

    My Friend and coach! What GOD DOES HE DOES SO WELL AND MAKES IT BEAUTIFUL IN HIS SIGHT!
    Jo inspires encourages and most of all cares. Love and forever blessings to my dear friend!
    Jeremiah 29:11

  9. Sharon - December 1, 2015

    So proud of you, Jo. I am 66 years old a d about 60 pounds ovrtweignt. You have inspired me to not let anything get in my way. Thanks for your inspiring story.

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