Twinning Our Way From Fat To Fit In Our Fifies & Maintaining With VSlim…

Every picture tells a story and for the past 7+ years, my twin sister and I hid behind people in photos or cropped them when menopause and thyroid disease effectively packed on the pounds.  Over the past year, we have shared a weight loss journey that included lifestyle changes.

When our twin granddaughters were born, my twin sister and I didn’t have a weight problem.  Our recurring “fat phase” from childhood would eventually catch up with us in our late 40’s.

Just after our 45th birthday, my sister and I had been averaging a 5-10lb weight gain year after year.  This was depressing for both of us after managing to maintain our weight for the better part of our lives.  Years of yo yo dieting and even diet pills probably didn’t help our situations.  Neither of our husbands commented about our weight changing but as we wearily moved our smaller sized clothing to other closets, we feared hitting 200 lbs wouldn’t be far off for either of us.

Although we weren’t doing anything remarkably different in our 50’s, we felt helpless to change the shape of things until making a commitment to each other and setting a goal for our weight loss journey.  Doctors couldn’t adequate explain why women in their 40s and 50s suddenly began to gain weight and we went to plenty of them trying to find a solution.  We were both still very active with Cindy working part time brand ambassador jobs while chasing the grandtwins and I was working a full time job in sales while starting my new business venture, Texas Twins Events.

So, if we weren’t laying around watching tv and eating Bon Bons, why were we gaining weight? No one could give us a good answer.  The weight gain caused my twin to get high blood pressure and although my blood pressure didn’t change, I was terrified that Cindy might join the ranks of heart attack victims in our family.  The very thought of losing my built in best friend and better half is what finally led us to make a pact to join a gym and study nutrition facts while becoming familiar with carb counting along the way.

When we started our weight loss journey, neither of us owned a scale.  We found visits to our doctors depressing enough without bothering to see the virtues of knowing whether we had lost or gained.  We bought scales together after reviewing several and wearily committed to weighing in every morning and calling each other with our results.

Being overweight on its own is depressing enough but when you have a cloud of heart disease, diabetes and death on both sides of your family- it’s a wake up call that needs to be answered.

Our weight loss journey would be a learning curve for not only us but, also for three generations of our families.  My sister and I both learned that bread is the devil although we had grown up on sandwiches.


Like anyone else, our journey had successes and setbacks but we leaned on one another when the going got tough.  No lifestyle change is ever easy and with two sets of twins, our journey often left many of our followers laughing at the unexpected twists and turns that our reality had become.  

We didn’t have to jog or run to lose the weight and we still don’t but,  we are capable of 30 minutes on the treadmill and 1 1/2-2 hours at the gym.  We’ve come a long way and don’t plan on backtracking.  We take 2 hours out of everyday to excercise and if we have a long road trip for a client skip that day and return to the gym on the next day.

Nearly everyone in our family had a weight problem but one person in particular had more than she could have handled on her own.  My Aunt Dorothy was the first person that actually lived in her bed.  

Aside from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, this “living in your bed thing” was surprising for me as a child.  We never slept in because we had chores to do.  Watching that movie for the first time with my sister, we both wondered how that family got anything done laying around in bed?  

Years later, my dads partner would show us that living out of your bed isn’t as weird as it sounds.  Gretta rarely left her bedroom and loved nothing more than watching tv but Gretta was never overweight, she was depressed.  Visits with the grandtwins lit up her otherwise boring days and she loved slumber parties in her room with the Twins.  Gretta struggled with Complicated Grief Syndrome but never sought counseling.  

Years of Dr Pepper and cigarettes may have been a factor in her last bout with breast cancer that finally took her life.  She ate very little but easily consumed a six pack of Dr Pepper and 2 packs of cigarettes a day.  

Gretta had a smile that could light any room and owned several businesses prior to retiring.  She was a workaholic who I feel certain missed the friends and conversation that working gave her.  

In her later years, professional gambling filled the void that retirement had created.  By the time my dad and she met, he had just had a quadruple bypass and it was Gretta who nursed him back to health as Cindy raised the twins and my days were spent working.  

Dad had 6 years with Gretta but he would’ve liked to have many more.  Gretta called my sister and I after learning that breast cancer had returned again and we truly believed that radiation and chemotherapy would cure her again since the combination had worked before but, sadly Gretta died in her bed less than a month after beginning an aggressive cancer treatment.  

Had we known treatment would kill her, we would have never suggested it.  Gretta brought life, love and laughter to my father and my family and her spark and zest for life were just a few of the things that made her so special to us.  

Gretta chose to come home and spend her last days in the room surrounded by familiarity where she had spent so many years watching HSN and QVC items she enjoyed opening every afternoon.  UPS deliveries were Grettas favorite part of the day for Gretta in the last years of her life.

Occasionally, my sister and I refer to the “bed people” of Willy Wonka or my Aunt Dorothy but not Gretta.  She was wiry and in the best shape of a 60 year old that I have ever seen.  It wasn’t unusual for her to greet us at her door in a tube top and hot pants with the body of someone half her age.  

Gretta may have spent a lot of time in bed but she was feisty and fun unlike our Aunt Dorothy.  The only similarity was the amount of time Gretta spent in her bedroom waiting for our next visit or a delivery from HSN or QVC.

My sister and I will never forget our first meeting with Aunt Dorothy. Aunt Dorothy was first truly obese person that I had ever seen.  Long before shows like “My 600 lb Life” became popular, there were actually others who were so heavy that they couldn’t get out of their own bed or even care for themselves.  

No one talked about bedridden people who were grossly obese 40 or 50 years ago.  Perhaps because being so heavy that you can’t get yourself out of bed or go to work was such a rare occurrence all of those years ago.  

Today bedridden people who are unable to care for themselves appear to be far more common for some reason that I may never fully understand.

Our first meeting with my Aunt Dorothy was at about 6 years old in Long Beach and was so frightening and shocking that my sister and I would spend the rest of my life wondering how or why anyone would let themselves go like that.  

My Aunt Dorothy relied on everyone else to take care of her because the only thing she did on her own appeared to be eating.  I never witnessed her changing her own clothes or bathing herself or even brushing her own hair. 

We learned (through conversations between our grandparents) that Aunt Dorothy didn’t leave the bed to use the bathroom which may have been why her room smelled so bad but I’m guessing about this fact.

Our Aunt Dorothy had given up on life after her divorce.  Her car sat rotting in the driveway after years of being abandoned.  I often wondered if Aunt Dorothy had just pulled into her driveway and after taking a look around, decided to throw her life away but the answer would never come.  

Asking such a question would’ve immediately resulted in getting my face slapped.  Over the years, I’ve learned to “zip it” after a lifetime of asking questions out loud rather than keeping my curious questions bottled inside.  

If I said half the things that run through my mind or pique my curiosity, people might be more than a little surprised.  I never truly stop thinking and it isn’t easy to shut my mind off.

Aunt Dorothy had 12 children and a career in nursing that she “effectively threw in the trash” due to her depression.  She became the only person in our family who had stopped living to stay in bed and let those 12 children, neighbors and family care for her.  All of her children pretty much raised themselves with the youngest children being cared for by the oldest.  

Our greatest fear was turning into Aunt Dorothy and it probably haunted her children too.  My reasons for believing this are that none of her children or grandchildren are overweight.  We follow their FB posts and keep up with them.  

The only obvious differences between Aunt Dorothy’s family and our own is (ironically) Religion.  Our family is compromised of Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, Episcopal or No Preference while Aunt Dorothy’s children and grandchildren are 7th Day Adventist.  

Prior to leaving Guam, many of our family jenvers were Catholic but upon moving stateside, Religious Preferences were effectively, “split up” and I’m guessing it was mainly due to the wide array of churches and choices and/or convenience.

Perhaps distance from one church to another played a role but I’m not really sure.  Aunt Dorothy had far more children than anyone else in our family.  How all of those kids fit into a three bedroom house was pretty surprising.

Everyone in my family attended church especially the children.  Aunt Dorothy’s children have very large families and far more children than we do.  It’s not uncommon for that side of our family to have 10-17 children.

Aunt Dorothy and her home were a mess with pets and children running everywhere and overflowing dishes in the sink.  Just walking in to such a haphazard world that was completely different from ours was as surprising as you might expect.  

The yard was in worse shape than the house and driving up to the house, my sister and I had initially thought we were dropping off food to a less fortunate person or maybe even clothing.  

Our grandparents rarely told us where we were going so every weekend or summer was a new adventure.  We grew up in the “children should be seen and not heard” era.

Nothing could have prepared us for Aunt Dorothy or her lifestyle which is probably why no one bothered to tell us where we were going or why.  My grandfather finally went to visit her due to guilt after hearing about her situation from another relative.  They had stopped speaking to each other after my grandfathers twin brother took his life.  Everyone blamed each other at the time because suicide was a shock that rattled the entire family.

Many of our Aunts or Uncles lived in Lompoc but the rest of them were scattered in Long Beach or other suburbs several hours away from us.  

These road trips weren’t unusual as my grandfather considered himself somewhat of a matriarch or his family after his twin brother killed himself on Fathers Day.  My grandfather never recovered from losing his “other half.”  

I’ve heard horror stories of personality changes when a twin loses a twin.  There were changes after losing Joe to my grandfather.  He was moody and anxious and rarely slept more than a few hours.  The loss would haunt him for the rest of his life.  

My grandfather put far more effort into having a close relationship with his siblings after losing his brother.  His weekends were spent hosting family get togethers at his home or driving to visit relatives.

No one in my family went into any detail about what really happened to Aunt Dorothy.  They all accepted that she was different and behaving strangely without trying to change the dynamics of what her home life had become.  It would take years for her to get out of that bed and back out into the world.

While everyone else in our family could easily be considered workaholics, poor Aunt Dorothy and her children managed to scrape by with government assistance or financial help from her family.  Without everyone rallying around to help her, she might’ve been forced to get out of bed and get a job but she wasn’t.  Her friends, relatives and family made it easy for her to live in bed while the world changed around her.

It’s no small wonder that many of Aunt Dorothy’s children became successful in their careers.  Often, the fear of childhood poverty is one helluva motivater.  No one wants to be their parents especially when their parents are as different as our Aunt Dorothy was.

Occasionally, when my Aunt Dorothy needed help and called my grandfather, our grandparents would drop my sister and I off for a few days.  We felt helpless to say no and giving our  incredibly overweight Aunt a sponge bath was a pretty gross task when you are 8-10 years old.  Certainly one we won’t ever forget.  

Throughout our childhood it wasn’t uncommon for us to be shuffled from one relative to the next.  We washed windows and mowed yards, we cooked meals and at my Uncle Bob’s house we learned to plant crops and milk cows.  

My sister, brother and I actually enjoyed staying with my Aunt Shirley far more than the other relatives.  She treated my sister, my brother and I like her own kids and if we were doing chores you can bet that they were too.  

Our summers spent with Aunt Shirley were our happiest times as children.  Aunt Shirley was a housewife and Uncle Albert worked as a firefighter.  Occasionally, Aunt Shirley sold Tupperware from home but, with three children of her own along with us three, Aunt Shirley didn’t take on part time work until long after her three children were grown.  

I’m certain that loading up her three children along with my brother, sister and I was a lot to handle but my Aunt Shirley managed to not only keep us all in line during our summers with her but also busy with chores, swimming lessons and church.

All of our other Aunts and Uncles kept immaculate homes.  Many were pilots or military and they stayed far away from visits with my Aunt Dorothy.  She was the sideshow that everyone attempted to hide.  I doubt my Aunt cared.  Aunt Dorothy’s  true love was the television and food deliveries supplied by her children, neighbors and others who felt sorry about her situation.  

Aunt Dorothy’s friends and neighbors may have been as surprised and embarrassed as my sister and I regarding my Aunts living conditions but,  we never overheard anyone saying “get out of bed. Get yourself together. You have a family to raise.  Why are you living like this?”  They may have thought it but it was never spoken.  Heck to be honest, I thought these things myself.

Aunt Dorothy was full blood Indian and like my grandfather and his other siblings, giant by any normal scale.  Aunt Dorothy was easily 6’4 with a huge bone structure.  

A few of our relatives were giants and it wasn’t uncommon for the women to be big boned.  Luckily for us, our mother was of Swedish/German descent or my sister and I could’ve been giant too.  Apparently, we took after my grandmother with red hair and our darker skin tone can be attributed to our grandfather.

Many of our grandfathers sisters could easily pass for men from behind.  I had heard this statement from my other relatives and after meeting various family members who had left Guam to settle in Lompoc, believed it myself.  

My grandfathers siblings were all far taller than he or his twin and it was widely speculated that they are shorter because they were twins.  In the 1920s and 30s, Twins were quite rare in Indian Tribes.  Our grandfather and his twin were born on a reservation in Oklahoma.  How he and my grandmother came to know each other is something that I never really learned.

Twins ran on both sides of their families.  My grandmothers brothers had twin granddaughters too.  We have eight sets of twins spanning the last 3 generations.

There weren’t any petite or small framed relatives on my grandfathers side.  My grandmother was probably the only person in family photos under 5’1 with his family and stood out due to her red hair and blue eyes.

My grandfathers skin was so dark that his blue eyes were often shocking to people who assumed he was Hispanic or a mix of two or more ethnic origins.  With his black hair and deep brown skin and blue eyes was what looked like a hawk nose as it was sharp and aristocratic in comparison to our grandmothers far softer features.

Back in those days, a redhead with fair skin walking into anywhere with a full blood Indian was surprising but my grandmother never turned when anyone whispered or acknowledged that she and my grandfather were quite obviously from very different backgrounds. 

Often, my sister and I heard whispers of “half breed” behind our backs because we looked “different” or more ethnic than others in our family.  Even today it’s not unusual for people to speak Spanish to my sister or I because we don’t look American.

Back in the 60’s, “mixed marriages” may have been tolerated but they weren’t widely accepted.  My grandmothers family abandoned her after she chose to marry my grandfather.  Visits from her siblings were as rare as you might expect.  

My grandparents had nothing in common from their backgrounds to their families.  My grandmother was well educated and affluent while my grandfather was neither. Their marriage remains a mystery.  

My grandmother hated cooking and cleaning so my grandfather handled such “chores.”  We knew this was “different” from watching television shows but having 17-20 relatives over every weekend was “different” too.  

When someone in our family was ill, they often moved in with my grandparents and although our grandmother hated chores, she was often the nurse for these family members.  Ironically, none of them were her relatives who she had lost contact with over the years.  

My grandmother loved shopping and perhaps my grandfather worked so many odd jobs to support her habit.  She never held a job a day in her life because she didn’t have to.  Neighbors called us gypsies. 

With so many family members coming and going and others staying to spend their last weeks or months among family, it wasn’t unusual for us to have a full house.  

My grandfather operated a gas station and a vending company after retiring from the military and it wasn’t unusual for him to flip cars or trucks right out of our front yard or the alley.  

He also repaired lawn mowers and had several gigs to supplement his income.  Everyone knew our grandfather in Lompoc because he had never met a stranger but our grandmother rarely talked to others and had very few friends.  My grandmother was never a “social person.” 

My father and his sister had the black hair of my grandfather and only my aunt was blessed with his blue eyes.  Many of our family members have green or hazel eyes but blue is rare especially for redheads.

All of those years ago,  I remember being terrified of “catching” whatever disease had made my Aunt Dorothy fat for years after that first meeting with her.  I wasn’t alone.  

My sister was equally horrified meeting Aunt Dorothy too.  Standing over her bed to meet her was one of the most awkward and frightening encounters that I’ve ever had in my life.  

At the time, the only “real life” fat lady we had ever seen was at the circus and even she wasn’t bedridden.  In fact, the circus fat lady was probably half the size of my Aunt Dorothy.  The circus fat lady appeared to be happy although she was fat.  My Aunt didn’t really “look happy” in her bed but, unless someone was laughing, I was often unsure of whether they were happy or not.  

Smiles were pretty rare for my grandfathers siblings because they were serious about everything.  Apparently, Indians rarely smiled in photos but I was never told why.

My father loved taking us to fun parks and the circus and I’m pretty sure that the first time we saw the fat lady was around our 6th birthday.  I’ve never really understood the “Carnie Life” and at this point in my life may never fully grasp why anyone just up and decided to runoff with the circus.  

I have often wondered where the families of circus workers were or why they had chosen such an odd career but was pretty sure they were happy with the choice.  Carnies are always happy and smiling.

Meeting Aunt Dorothy on that first visit was shocking for my sister and I because it was difficult to see the bed my Aunt covered with her massive girth.  She had a phone and food surrounding her and couldn’t even sit up on her own.  I’ve always had an aversion to bad smells but the smell of my Aunts room all those years ago may actually be the reason for it.  

The smells of fried chicken and apple pie wafted into the less tolerable smells of her body. To make matters worse (for me anyway), she pulled my sister and I towards her for a hug.  I’m pretty certain my head went somewhere between under her arm or under her breast but felt nothing short of relief after she finally released her grip on me.  

I’m not really a hugger by nature but if you smell bad I’m certainly less inclined to dive into a hug with you.

Aunt Dorothy died many years later after a gastric bypass surgery some thirty years ago.  Although she lost over 400 lbs, her heart had been through too many years of struggling to keep her alive.  

Perhaps the surgery was called something else back then but my last time to see her was in my 20’s at my grandmother and grandfathers house.  She was driving through DFW on her way to move in with her daughter in Washington when I saw her again all of those years later.  

I often wondered if my Aunt went through the surgery in order to see her children who had all moved away at their earliest opportunity.  Scattered around the globe, it would appear that her children couldn’t wait to get away from the responsibility of caring for their mother.

The last time I saw Aunt Dorothy, she had lifted her arms to hug me and there was a  flap of skin that extended from under her arms to her knees.  It appeared to be a cape of human flesh that looked like bat wings.  

I was reminded of the first time that I had seen a bat was in Desert Center while spending the summer with Aunt Shirley looking at Aunt Dorothy’s “cape like arms.”

Throughout our summers with Aunt Shirley and Uncle Albert while they lived in Desert Center, bats came and congregated in the small community and flying over my head with its wings spread wide was the first time I had ever come close to one.  

Their wings were unique and my Aunt Dorothy reminded me of those bats in Desert Center although she obviously couldn’t fly anywhere.  She had at least 3-4 feet of loose and wobbly skin after losing the weight in her arms alone.

Aunt Dorothy’s face and body reminded me of a balloon that had been popped.  She was a huge person and like her sister Kathleen- she literally took up most of the space in a room.  She also had really large teeth that I later learned, came out and weren’t needed at night.  I found them in the bathroom of my grandparents house and wondered what had happened to her other teeth?  Had all those years of massive meals taken a toll on on her teeth or did her inability to leave bed and brush her teeth play a part?

My sister often laughs about some of the weird things that run through my mind but, in my own defense, I’ve always been far more curious about things than anyone in my family.  Being dyslexic gives me the advantage of thinking both backwards and forwards.  I often think in a circle which I know is rare but gives me a different view.

I was old enough to know better but (as usual)  my curiosity got the better of me as I asked what had happened to Aunt Dorothy’s skin.  Not being one to shy from questions, Aunt Dorothy explained that losing the weight had left heavy folds of skin similar to an elephant.  I thought about this for a moment and noted the whiskers on her chin that were also similar to an elephant but didn’t mention the similarity.

Of course, my Aunt also offered to show me her legs and stomach but I quickly (and politely) declined.  I have no idea how many years my Aunt Dorothy lost laying in that bed.  Getting surgery to finally lose the weight most likely improved the last years of her life.  

Aunt Dorothy died happy playing with her grandchildren and reconnecting with her family.  I’m pretty certain that my Aunt Dorothy had no regrets based on the photos of her smiling and chasing kids that she sent to my grandfather.  My Aunt probably lost a minimum of 10-20 years laying in that bed and nearly eating herself to death.

Massive weight loss is hard on your body as much as massive weight gain is.  I have two friends who have undergone a body lift and the recovery is fairly painful.  

Although it’s not uncommon for many of my clients to be over 300 lbs, I have many family members who are as well.  Many of them are considering gastric bypass or the sleeve type surgeries without recognizing how much they will need to change the way they eat in order for the surgery to work.  My cousin Cynthia wants her son James Allen to get a gastric bypass.  James though isn’t nearly as keen on this idea as his mom and grandma, my Aunt Shirley are.

James Allen is 18 years old and weighs over 400 lbs.  James is also 6’7 but struggles with his weight on a daily basis.  The reason for this is my Aunt and his mom who worry about the effects of obesity.  My sister and I worry too as he’s spent his entire life struggling with yo yo diets. 

After meeting my Aunt Dorothy all of those years ago with my grandmother, my grandmother would effectively “use that visit” to occasionally threaten my sister and I by saying “stop eating that bread do you want to end up like Aunt Dorothy?”  No one wanted to end up like my Aunt Dorothy.  

Maybe Aunt Dorothy didn’t care what her life had become and maybe it wasn’t as bad on her as it appeared but I will never know the actual answer because I never had the opportunity to ask.

My grandmother hated fat people although she was married to one.  Even if you weren’t fat, you were threatened with being fat by her if she saw you eating candy, crackers, or bread.

The truth is that my family was pretty poor and like many poor families, we had very little options for healthy food.  Oh sure, we had an apple here or a banana there but we mostly lived on waffles, white bread, tortillas and refried beans or a host of other unhealthy food choices including whatever my father brought home from hunting or fishing.  

I’m pretty sure I love fruit so much because as a child, it was something we never had.  When I began buying groceries after leaving home, the fruit and vegetable expenses outweighed other items by far.  I could live on fruit.  It’s delicious but it’s also full of carbs.  Over our yearlong weight loss journey, my sister and I had to limit our love of fruit and learned that carb counting was important to weight loss. 

I can’t recall any meal at my grandparents that included salad because my family literally lived on carbs.  We had plenty of ham and eggs but bologna sandwiches or spam and occasionally Vienna sausages were “staples” of the meals my family shared along with beans and rice.  

I was at least 25 years old by the time I ordered a salad.  My sister and I found salads to be for upper middle class folks since obviously you weren’t going to fill up on a salad and they weren’t exactly cheap.  We love soup but the entire salad thing was basically lost not only on my sister and I but also our entire family.  

It wasn’t unusual for my grandmother to chase my sister and I around the block in our teens while driving a VW Beetle and screaming “if you don’t lose this weight- no one is going to want to marry you” conversations. I’m pretty sure that our neighbors were as horrified about watching my sister and I walk/run around the block as we were but no one ever told my grandmother how unusual or cruel these forced workouts were.  If we slowed the pace, she honked at us to pick it up.

My grandmother loved nothing more than to put you down for being fat because she actually believed that she could change you by doing the mean things she did to discourage overeating.  She probably even believed that she was somehow helping us keep us from being fat by forcing us to lose weight? Who knows?

Maybe (one can hope) she never realized how mean she was by hounding us all of our lives about our weight?  Perhaps she thought her “tips” for only eating celery would benefit us somehow?  

My grandmother didn’t “save” this type of “Obesity Intervention” for my sister and I either.  Our Aunt Shirley and our cousins were always getting the “if you don’t stop eating, you’re going to die an early death” talk from her too.  

Ironically, being married to my overweight grandfather and being forced to “blend in”  in with his overweight family throughout the course of her marriage turned my grandmother into a bully against fat people.  

Could it be that she hated fat people because all of the Inlaws she acquired by marrying my grandfather made fun of her for being petite or pale or even “different.”  My grandmother not only looked different but she acted different from her new Indian relatives and prided herself on being perfect in every way.  

My grandmother had a heart attack herself although she was never overweight a day in her life.  She may have been surrounded by people who were but, my grandmother found herself to be “above being overweight.”  She literally hated fat people including her own relatives.  

When my sister and I “got heavy” during our pregnancies, my grandmother never missed a day of telling us that our husbands would leave us if we didn’t lose weight because “no one wants a fat wife.”  

Yep, she was one in a million and probably the biggest “self esteem crushing” machine I have ever met.  Thankfully, my grandmother wasn’t around when Cindy and I started gaining weight due to menopause and thyroid disease in our late 40’s because if she had been, she would have surely made every visit with her another verbal attack of “throwing your life away due to your lack of self control” discussion.  

For my grandmother, being overweight was unacceptable behavior.  How she lived so many years with our bread and butter loving grandfather is confusing but they spent over 50 years together with his overweight family over every weekend.  

My dad never had a weight problem although his sister our Aunt Shirley always has.  For some reason, my grandmother literally “targeted” the women and girls in our family for being overweight but if you were a guy, it was (for some reason that I will never understand) okay.  

Men in our family were entitled to having a pot gut while women needed to do whatever they could (including starving) to keep their weight in check.  I never heard my grandmother tell my dad or my brother they were getting fat or to go on a diet because it never happened.

When Cindy’s daughters were 12 and 15, my niece Leigh Ann became an “easy target” for my grandmother regarding her weight.  Stephaney would walk circles through Cindy’s house to keep her weight in check but Leigh Ann would struggle most of her life with her weight.  

My grandmother lived with my sister after my grandfather died which gave her plenty of opportunities to pick on Cindy’s daughters about their weight.  After “putting up with my grandmother” for 17 years, my sister called our dad and Aunt Shirley because she couldn’t take it anymore and wanted them to come get her.  I wouldn’t have put up with my grandmother living with me for a week but Cindy survived 17 miserable years of my grandmother complaining and making her life even more miserable by bullying her daughters about their weight.  Kicking our grandmother out of her house was probably the most liberating thing my sister had done in her life.  Cindy finally broke the chains of our lifetime of having someone to bully us about our weight and our children’s weight too.

My niece, Leigh Ann was often bullied at school and by my grandmother which let to epic arguments from my sister and I with our grandmother.  We had spent our entire childhood listening to her ideas and theories about why we were fat and my sister and I often argued that our children wouldn’t be taking our places in the “fat blast” zone with my grandmother.  No one had ever stood up for us during her fat rants when we were children but, we changed that for our own kids.

Growing up I had always heard “if you can’t say something nice- don’t say anything at all.” Apparently this advice was meant for children and teens but not for adults in our family.  My grandmother was always “picking on someone.”  I’m pretty sure it was because she missed her family or maybe even regretted her choices.  My grandfather spoiled her and I’m guessing it was because he had “married up” and spent his life trying to make hers worry free.  My grandmother was always jealous of my grandfathers twin brother, Joe. 

After Leigh Ann finished high school and headed for college, she decided to try Phentermine too and lost quite a bit of weight.  Sadly, like Cindy and I, once she stopped taking the pills, Leigh Ann gained the weight back.  

My dedicated readers know that my family and I are almost always together so it won’t surprise you that “fat jokes” or insinuations from my daughter in law, Stephanie Hafele to my Nieces, or my son and occasionally even my sister and I have happened over the years.  

Skinny people just don’t get it!  Once at Hurricane Harbor, Leigh Ann was in line for a ride with my son and daughter in law and Stephanie made a comment about not wanting to ride with Leigh Ann because she was afraid she would fly off.  

These types of idiotic “fat comments” hurt long after they are spoken and the one thing Leigh Ann looks forward to after her weight loss surgery is never being called fat again.  It will be the first time in my niece’s life that the stigma of being heavy won’t shadow her.

A few months ago, I overheard my Aunt Shirley call her granddaughter fat and lost it.  Rene is far from overweight and whether my aunt realizes it or not, she sounded just like her mother.  I explained to my Aunt that telling someone who isn’t fat that they are won’t make them lose weight.  Only positive changes can do that.

My grandmother once told my sister who was shopping for a dress and not overweight at the time by any standards  “you can’t put lipstick on a pig” to give you a better idea of how cruel she could be whether she realized it or not.  Twenty years later, my sister still remembers this hurtful comment.  Words sting and if you have a family member with a weight problem, I’m begging you to choose your words carefully.  We were never skinny enough for my grandmother who loved glossy magazines with half starved models on the covers.

No one was more shocked than my grandmother when I started a career in modeling.  Why?  I wasn’t skinny enough.  In my own defense, I wore a size 8 and had a successful run of 15 years as a print and commercial model who (ironically) outsold all of the skinny models.  Looking “different” was finally in style!  My twin and I have never really looked like anyone in our family and my unique look actually worked to my benefit in modeling because buyers remembered me.I wasn’t the prettiest and I wasn’t the skinniest but I didn’t look like everyone else and I had personality!  I could sell anything and made lasting relationships with all of my buyers.  My clients became my friends and my friends became my new family.

Last year, my twin and I decided to put an end to  “fat shaming” in my family.  It only accomplishes hurting other people and will never provoke a lifestyle change.  We’ve had far too many generations of obesity and fat shaming.  

Our grandchildren are getting a head start on changing their eating habits early.  Doing things differently with our children and grandchildren by showing them that change is possible is perhaps the greatest gift that we could give them.

If we don’t teach our children and grandchildren about nutrition and exercise at a young age, we aren’t doing them any favors in a family with a history of obesity, heart disease and high blood pressure.  

My sister and I are setting a good example for not only our own children and grandchildren but also our entire family.

Obesity runs in our family along with heart disease and high blood pressure.  We really wanted to set a good example for my twin grandnieces too who were more “than a little” interested in our weight loss journey.  In fact, the twins joined us at the gym and jumped right in on changing their eating habits too.

Wendy Wortham & Cindy Daniel The Pawning Planners
It’s pretty easy to lose weight when you’re in your 20s and 30s and we had both kept off our weight after crash dieting in our teens off and on.  We both were guilty of yo yo dieting and trying every crazy diet on the planet.  From the watermelon diet to the oatmeal diet, my twin and I have tried nearly anything to keep from gaining weight.  

As teens, we were called Humpty and Dumpty and the only time we “really went off track” was during our pregnancies until our 45th birthday came and went.  

My sister and I both gained at least 75 lbs when we were pregnant but it wasn’t due to overeating.  We both were hospitalized for several weeks due to kidney complications or pregnancy diabetes.  

Cindy and I are good at a lot of things but neither of us were capable of an uncomplicated pregnancy.  

Cindy nearly died after a complication with Leigh Ann and after carrying Stephaney was told that another pregnancy would kill her.  My son is a miracle child and also a c section baby. 

When your entire family have weight issues, walking into a restaurant often leaves everyone else turning around to stare at you for all the wrong reasons.

A few people may assume that you or your family just hang out at all you can eat buffets although this assumption is far from true.  For overweight people, being made fun of or stared at is an everyday occurrence.  It’s a heartbreaking reality. 

Menopause for both twin and I along with a full thyroidectomy for me made losing weight so difficult that we both tried losing weight with Phentermine.  

Phentermine worked for a year or so and then we both gained weight again.  We were so dissapointed with the results of Phentermine that we effectively, gave up diet pills.  

There is no magic pill in the weight loss industry.  You may see commercials or ads trying to trick you into believing there are but there aren’t.  Whatever your weight loss goals may be you will be required to put effort into your journey.

If weight loss were easy there wouldn’t be any overweight people.  Everyone we’ve lost died from diabetes, heart attacks or strokes.  My father and aunt have both had quadruple bypasses.  My grandmother and grandfather did too.  Heart attacks have been the Dark Shadow of Death in my family for generations.  For not only my grandparents but also their siblings.  Heart attacks run on both sides of my family for as far back as I can remember.

No one in my family wanted to be bullied for being overweight and yet they were.  Sadly, many “health conscious” people assume that heavy people make bad decisions or just don’t care about how they look.  This isn’t true.  No one loves being heavy and having health issues due to obesity!

If there were a magic pill, I would’ve bought it long ago and transformed my entire family. 

For women over 50, weight gain is nearly an inevitable fact due to hormonal changes and a slowing metabolism.  

My sister and I finally decided to make a lifestyle change in September 2016 by joining a gym and counting carbs.  We both lost half of our weight gain before hitting a plateau again.  

When you’re putting in the work and effort and still not losing weight, it can get pretty depressing but, we decided to do something drastic and joined a 6 week Bootcamp class, Camp Transformation.

The first two weeks were so hard on us that we both barely had the energy to eat dinner before going straight to bed!  We hung in there though and finally hit our goal weight.  

Bootcamp isn’t for everyone and the one thing we both learned is that we are far stronger than we thought.  Flipping tires and climbing ropes isn’t for the faint hearted.  

When you join a Bootcamp fitness program, it really is a lifestyle change.

My sister and I were both pretty nervous about Bootcamp but, we met a lot of others who were older in the program and they inspired us to keep moving and stay on track.  

There were many “back stories” at Bootcamp.  Most of the other people in the class had been heavy for the better part of their lives.

Our first visit to Planet Fitness was awkward because we had never joined a gym and probably because we didn’t really own any workout “outfits.”  We threw together whatever comfortable clothing we had laying around and wore that instead.  

As the skinny people moved away, we had a few funny moments learning the machines but after a few weeks we could use the equipment without falling off of it.  We slowly began to “fit in with the fit folks.”

Today I posted a before and after shot of Cindy and I on my FB page.  Everyone was shocked to find that these 50 something twins had truly transformed ourselves over the course of a year.  Looking back, neither my sister or I realized we looked as heavy as we were whether we cropped our photos or not.  The results speak for themselves.  

Deciding to do something about being heavy rather than just accepting that we would spend the rest of our lives overweight wasn’t an easy decision but it was necessary.  My sister and I were sick and tired of being sick and tired due to midlife weight gain.

Cindy Daniel & Wendy Wortham Before Pic
Cindy Daniel & Wendy Wortham After Pic

Like anyone who has lost a lot of weight, we didn’t have any plans of gaining it back and wanted to maintain our weight loss.  Once you’ve made it to your goal weight the last thing you want to do is gain it all back.  It’s happened to a few of our friends and family members and we didn’t want it to happen to us.

Our friend Michael Martin had told us about an exciting new product launch for weight loss and maintenance and we decided to not only give a try but to also market it to Brides wanting to lose a few pounds and other clients who might be wanting to go on their own weight loss journey.  

Here’s the link:  Wendy Wortham-Vasayo Products There are two delicious choices for your VSlim Drink as well as a host of other all natural products too.

Our second generation twins, Maryssa and Makenna Mahaney dropped 20 lbs in less than 3 months but at 13 it’s far easier to lose weight.  

The twins progress was pretty amazing since we live in a world where kids and teens eat mostly fast food, chips and colas.  They both took karate classes and stayed active as a TwinTeam but in 6th grade, started gaining a little weight.  

Their lifestyle changes the past year have been pretty inspirational to watch.  Makenna and Maryssa could both run on the treadmill and the gym was their playground with their MeMe’s on the equipment nearby.

Maryssa and Makenna not only joined us at the gym but also at the grocery store.  We made healthy option shopping fun for them.  Reading all the labels on items and checking for carbs vs protein became a ritual for all four of us at grocery stores.

Although our twins decided to lose weight on their own although they weren’t terribly heavy or anywhere near being obese.  

Moving from elementary school to middle school was a life change for them and they wanted to be fit as a fiddle for the transition.

It’s not well known that many twins struggle with being different in school.  The truth is that Twins and multiples struggle through school because they are different.  

My sister and I hated high school probably because we had so many things going against us.  We didn’t have a mother, we were twins and we were overweight and certainly didn’t have the nicest clothes or other things that many of our schoolmates did.  Name calling was a common occurrence for my sister and I in elementary, middle and even high school.  

Back then, my sister and I were  as far from popular as you can imagine and only started to enjoy school in college where no one cared what you looked like.

We wanted our grandtwins to have all of the advantages that we didn’t. From the best clothes to braces for Makenna, my sister and I sacrificed to ensure that the twins didn’t have the same hurdles we did in school.

Maryssa & Makenna Mahaney Before Pic
Maryssa, Makenna & Maddie After Pic

Even my niece, Leigh Ann has decided to go on a yearlong weight loss journey after her gastric bypass surgery last month.  She made the decision after watching my twin and I and our grandtwins go through the process of making changes and losing weight.  

Leigh Ann has suffered with weight issues her entire life so taking this first step was a pretty big decision for her.  She’s already lost 32 lbs and is really looking forward to having the energy she needs to keep up with her daughter, Madyson.  My niece is really excited about her weight loss journey and will didn’t the next year adjusting to life after gastric surgery.

My daughter in law, Stephanie is the only person I know who never has had to worry about her weight but being “naturally skinny” isn’t as common as people might think. 

Even Stephanie may face weight gain when she’s older as her mother did because aging slows down your metabolism.  A “good metabolism” is a genetic gift to those who never have to worry about gaining weight no matter what they eat.  For my daughter in law, all of this dieting and/or obesity in our family is surprising.

My Daughter In Law & Son, Stephanie & Robert Hafele

Stephanie Hafele has occasionally “said the wrong thing” to a few of my family members regarding her “gift” of being naturally skinny to disasterous results.  Fat people don’t like being told they are fat.  

My son has gained and lost weight so many times during the course of their marriage that even I am surprised but when your wife tells you you’re getting fat again, you jump on the bandwagon of losing weight.  

My son loves food and comes from a food loving family so his weight gain may be from emotional eating.  He stops eating entirely for weeks at a time only to gain it back when he resumes his regular eating habits.

Celebrations in my family are always at a restaurant.  If it’s a birthday party, we go out to eat.  After an event, we go out to eat.  It’s possible to make healthy choices at restaurants but I actually prefer not to eat at them.  Often, there is a bread basket or rolls that are hard to resist for my carb loving family.

Having “cheat days” actually helps my sister and I maintain our weight loss.  We have a bite of this or a sample of that without going nuts on the bread basket.

Changing the way we do things or where we choose to end a long day in the Events business isn’t easy.  Cindy and I now prepackage food for our road trips and decline a piece of cake at weddings.  Having healthy options on hand helps keep us on track.

My Nieces, Leigh Ann & Stephaney & Daughter In Law, Stephanie Hafele
All of our cousins have fought their weight for years.  Many have even looked into gastric bypass surgery.
My Cousins- Anna, Albert, James & Cynthia Dickson
One of our cousins, Albert Jr also has weight issues and will gain 20-30lbs before going on a drastic juice diet only to gain it back again in a few months and yes, go on yet another juice diet.

All of our cousins are volunteer firefighters and emergency responders so they aren’t overweight due to inactivity.  When you are “heavy” people treat you differently.  

No one wants to be overweight.  Being heavy often causes depression and anxiety along with a host of other health issues. I’ve found that many folks believe that heavy people just sit around watching tv but this couldn’t be further from the truth.  Obesity often runs in families.

Our husbands lost weight this past year but I’m pretty sure it was because we stopped buying packaged food and/or snacks.  

Since my sister and I spend most days driving to clients homes for Appraisal Appointments for The Pawning Planners or meeting clients at events, we prepackage our meals for road trips.

Every diet journey is different.  What works for one person may not work for another but by taking it slow and starting your journey with walking, it’s possible.  

Prepackaged foods may work for some but we tried that for a few months and it didn’t work for us.  Diet pills are hard on your kidneys and once you stop taking them, you will gain the weight back.  

Cutting your meals in half was what worked well for our grandtwins but they are young and resilient with highly active physical activities including tennis.  

We want to be around and watch our grandchildren grow up rather than becoming another statistic of heart disease and high blood pressure.

Makenna and Maryssa (like many other twins) are often 5-10lbs different but we have the same problem.  Cindy is either lighter than me or heavier than me.  All identical twins do not always weigh the same amount unless you are the Glass Twins who weigh and measure everything they eat which is pretty over the top even  in the twin world.  

Twins are naturally very close.  Our twins (like us) have never really been apart and are fairly competitive but at the end of the day, these twins are best friends just like us.

For non twins it’s difficult to understand the relationship between twins.  They lead with the same foot and although they may have different likes or dislikes, our twins support each other just as we did.  Unlike us, they will never have a grandmother telling them that they are fat and need to lose weight.  

Maryssa and Makenna will have all of the advantages that we didn’t and although they may never fully understand our unique childhoods, I feel certain that they will grow up with open hearts and open minds regarding others with weight issues.  

The twins love what they call “working out with their MeMe’s.”  We can’t really jump on the trampoline as much as they would us to and we’ve tried ice skating but “can’t never could” so whether we are good at something or not, we try everything often with our mini me twins laughing.

Cindy and I are horrible at tennis we try anyway.  If nothing else, we are giving everyone else a good laugh while giving it our best shot!  All of that jumping around on a tennis court for us could easily look like a comedy sketch to others.

As we go into the New Year, we both plan to stay on track and continue going to the gym.  We are no longer uncomfortable at the gym and actually look forward to it as a twin activity we share together with our grandtwins.

Getting our entire family to go on a weight loss journey with us wasn’t something that we planned but if we can save even one of our family members from another heart attack, it’s worth it…