Guest Post – Margie Webb: I Am A Loser

My friend Margie is one of the most inspiring people I know. To say that she has taken charge of her life would be an understatement. Over the last few years, she has tackled the various areas of her life, improved them and transformed them. Today, she writes about her journey toward better health. Read on, and prepare to be inspired.

Nov 2013, March 2014 & September 2014

Nov 2013, March 2014 & September 2014

My weight is going to kill me.

I knew this at the exact moment that the nurse had to take my blood pressure twice because she was concerned about the initial high reading. While I wanted to believe that it was her ineffective bedside manner because I know that my fat arms require the larger cuff, the fact that I knew I even needed the larger cuff DUE to fat arms was the moment that I had to accept my fate. My downhill march to death has started and I have nobody to blame but myself.

Granted, I hope that it doesn’t happen today, or tomorrow, or anytime in the near future, but eventually, if I don’t get healthy, my weight will kill me. Admit it, you never see elderly fat people just kicked back, living it up at the Senior Center. That’s because by the time you hit middle age, if you are obese, the health problems start to wear down your body and organs.

That’s blunt but it’s the truth. If you are reading this, are of a certain age and more than 100 pounds overweight, then you probably already know what I know: the life expectancy for a morbidly obese person who is past 40 years old is decreased by up to ten years. (

I am 41 years old, a middle class Caucasian female, and I am trying to save my life. Earlier this year, I topped the scales at over 300 pounds. Looking back at pictures from that time is very painful because I can see the unhappiness in my eyes. Physically, I was at my highest weight and my body felt it in various ways. My struggle with my weight is the same story that my generation of women share: we came of age with mothers who learned in their 1960ish teenage years to fad diet their body images onto us. Then, the internet came along, which solidified the “skinny is perfection” belief, and as we have children, we are passing along that message. It’s a vicious cycle with serious consequences for our society’s future.

Every woman that I know is an expert in picking her body image to shreds and always, ALWAYS, believing that she needs to lose this much or just a little more and she will be perfect happy. Our society regularly rams this message down our throats and millions of us are the reason that the diet industry is a $20 billion dollar business. Twenty billion! ( That’s how much we have been brainwashed that quick-and-easy is the only fix.

In high school, I was a size 8 and you could actually see my collarbones. And. I. Thought. I. Was. Fat. That memory makes me laugh hysterically now because if I ONLY KNEW what was coming for me. But, I was told I was fat and I believed it to be true. I never much watched what I ate or exercised. Once I got in to my 20’s, started having children, and continued eating processed foods, my weight began to climb.

And yes, I succumbed to the diet schemes and again, like many women, I have a list of them that I tried. Oh and I would be successful with them too. That is, until I stopped taking the pills, or ate carbs again, or stopped howling at the moon at midnight, or whatever the tricks of that particular weight loss plan. Then, I would not only gain back what I lost, but I would add more pounds to the total. As I grew older, the weight started to affect my health.

At 40 years old, I was diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure. These are solely because I am overweight and I am overweight for two main reasons: I did not eat healthy and I never regularly exercised. That’s it. That, gentle reader, is the simple truth about struggling with weight issues. Outside of weight loss surgery, which I am against for opinions all my own, no diet or pill is going to help you successfully lose weight and maintain the loss.

This is a growing epidemic in our culture as our population continues to rely less on fresh, clean food and more on processed and fast food. We all know the statistics and that our culture is driven increasingly by the quick result. That’s a huge reason why so many people, like me, have been unsuccessful in their weight loss attempts. It’s all good those first few weeks but when you don’t lose 200 pounds at once, many have the tendency to quit.

I have worked for many things in my life, finishing my college degree as a working, older mother, being chief among them, but nothing, and I mean, NOTHING, has been as hard as losing weight. I started my wellness journey last January with a goal of eating less crap and moving my body more. Vowing to not use any diet tricks (and sad to say, I did get weak once and spent 14 days hating myself on Advocare), I started a journal and created a Facebook group just for women like myself. The name of the group is Losers, because that’s what we all want to be.

Here I am almost a year later and 54 pounds lighter. No, I am not even halfway to my goal weight and there have many bumps along the way. But, I have made changes and am baby stepping my way to a longer life. I credit the support that I surrounded myself with and the mindset that this is going to take a long time.

And yes, it’s going to take a long time. It just is, there is no way around that fact. But, it’s worth it: for yourself, for your family, for the sustainability of our society.

Are you ready to save your life?

Margie can be found on Twitter @thehunnyb and on Facebook under Margie Webb. If interested in joining her Losers support group, she can be reached at either. Photo credit to the author.


Guest Post: Living with Marfan Syndrome

When my friend Maya Brown-Zimmerman first said she had Marfan Syndrome, my first thought was, “Huh?” Marfan Syndrome is not something I had ever heard of. During National Health Blog Post month, I want to put a spotlight on some health conditions that affect other people – conditions that there may not be a lot of awareness of. Marfan Syndrome seemed like a good place to start, and I am delighted to introduce you to Maya, who tells about life as a “Marf”.

I’d like to thank Kirsten for the opportunity to share my story with you here today. She’s asked me to talk about Marfan syndrome and how it affects our family.

Marfan syndrome is a rare, life-threatening connective tissue disorder. Connective tissue is basically the glue that holds your body together, so most of the body can be affected, specifically the eyes, heart and aorta, lungs, skin, bones, and dura sac (which protects your spinal cord). The most dangerous aspect of Marfan syndrome is aortic aneurysms: weak bulges in the aorta that can tear, which is life-threatening.

Some signs of Marfan syndrome include a tall (in relation to your family) stature, being thin, having long fingers, disproportionately long arms and legs, scoliosis and kyphosis, lens dislocation, a concave or protruding chest, and stretch marks that appear in odd places, like the shoulder blades. There are not outward symptoms of aortic enlargement, so it’s very important to get a thorough scan of the heart valves and entire aorta via echocardiogram, MRI, or CT scan if Marfan syndrome is suspected.

I was diagnosed when I was 8 years old. My mother observed that I appeared physically unable to complete many gross motor tasks that other kids my age had mastered, like skipping or riding a bike. She took me to the pediatrician and told him she wasn’t leaving until he figured out what was wrong. Luckily for him (and me), he did! I’ll never forget him grabbing a tape measure and silently taking measurements, then standing back and saying solemnly: “I am so sorry. I should have realized this sooner,” before sending me off to have my diagnosis confirmed by a cardiologist and geneticist.

Marfan is a dominant disorder, meaning that I knew any children my husband and I would have, had a 50% chance of inheriting Marfan from me. Our oldest son, M, is not affected (though he does have autism), and our youngest son, J, has Marfan.

J and I are affected differently. He is almost 2 and by his age, I’d already had 3 abdominal surgeries. Thankfully, he is surgery free, but he has some mild leakage in his heart valves, asthma, and some GI issues. He also had global delays early on. Now he is only delayed in speech. He has mild dysphagia too, so we thicken all of his drinks. Although he will eventually have activity restrictions in order to protect his aorta and eyes, right now nothing holds J back! He climbs the furniture, chases his brother, and dances on the coffee table. He’s going to give me grey hairs, but I love his fiery spirit.

Growing up with Marfan syndrome was difficult for me. There was very little information available at the time and as I got older, I stood out from my peers more and more. I eventually connected with other “Marfs,” and have become very involved in the greater Marfan community (we refer to ourselves as the Marfamily). Currently I run the National Marfan Foundation’s teen program and am a member of their board of directors. While it took me until my teenage years to begin attending Marfan conferences and being involved with the Marfamily, J went to his first conference at 6 months of age. I’m involved with a tight-knit of Marfan moms of children J’s age, so he has a built-in group of Marfriends that he’ll grow up knowing. Since I was diagnosed, the life expectancy for people with Marfan has nearly doubled, such that with proper diagnosis and management it’s the same as the general population. It truly is a different world for J and his friends, and I am grateful and excited for that! I now view Marfan as a blessing in may ways, and I hope to pass on this outlook to my son.

If you have questions about Marfan syndrome or related disorders, please check out the National Marfan Foundation.

Maya Brown-Zimmerman, MPH, is a patient advocate and volunteer with the National Marfan Foundation as a member of the board of directors and coordinator of the teen program. She also chronicles the ups and downs of parenting two sons with special needs while having a chronic illness herself at Musings of a Marfan Mom and WebMD.

(Photo provided by Maya Brown-Zimmerman)



Leading The Food Revolution

I am participating in the 2012 Wordcount Blogathon, which means one post every day for the month of May.

Today’s story starts with Megan, the 15-year-old daughter of my friend Michelle.

In many respects, Megan is a typical teenage girl. There are celebrities she loves and those she cannot bear the thought of. She enjoys going to the movies, has dreams about the future, and when the time comes, she would like to wear a pretty dress to her senior prom.

Except that if things don’t change for Megan soon, there may not be a senior prom. Because in order to go to senior prom, you have to go to high school. And Megan is too sick to go to school.

When Megan started experiencing severe dizziness a couple of years ago, her mom took her to a string of doctors who were not able to identify the cause. Even a week of tests in hospital did not reveal why this young girl was so off-kilter that she had to rely on a wheelchair.

The dizziness was not Megan’s only problem. She had a prolonged bout of respiratory illness, her periods were problematic from the very first day, and she became unable to sleep for more than two or three hours a night, in spite of being constantly exhausted.

Eventually, doctors were able to determine that Megan had Fatty Liver Disease. It became clear to her mom, Michelle, that poor nutritional choices had led to this outcome.

But Michelle, who has endured a lot of hardship in her life, is not one to be beaten down. Instead of simply accepting Megan’s condition, she decided to do something about it, not only for her own family, but for her entire community. She started by setting up a Facebook group for people suffering from Fatty Liver Disease.

Then she started making radical changes to her own and her daughter’s lifestyles.

While Michelle acknowledges her role in making less-than-ideal food choices for Megan, she points out that many parents simply do not understand the implications of the foods that they and their families consume. As a society, we are so caught-up in healthy-sounding labels like sugar-free this-thing or low-fat that-thing.

There is no denying the fact that food manufacturers hire very smart marketing companies who can successfully deceive entire segments of the population into believing that something is good for you when it’s actually leading you to an earlier grave.

Michelle decided that it was time for this to change, and so she has spearheaded the organization of an event in her community that will teach children and adults about healthy eating habits in a fun and engaging way. The Jamie Oliver Food Revolution Day is a global event being held in communities everywhere on Saturday, May 19th.

Michelle is organizing the event in London, Ontario. This day promises to provide entertainment and enlightenment for the whole family. Kids will enjoy such activities as making fruit or vegetable characters , while adults will learn how to make sense of those confusing nutrition labels and how to easily incorporate healthy eating into our busy lifestyles.

If you live anywhere near London, Ontario,  it is well worth attending this event. For details give Michelle a call at +1 226 234 4006.

And if you don’t live in London? Check out the Food Revolution website to see if there’s an event near you. It is going to be a global phenomenon on May 19th, with hundreds of public events and dinner parties in more than 300 cities worldwide.

Today’s children are the first generation who, on average, will have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. Michelle is determined to do what she can to turn the tide not only for Megan, but for other kids in the community.

Let’s all support the Food Revolution on May 19th. Together, we can truly change the world for our children.

(Photo credit: Denise Testa, JD Communication and Design)