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    Posted July 16, 2014 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Your 'Aha' weight-loss moments

    Survival, Hope, 100 Pounds Lost, and my Return To Living


    My name is Elaine, and this is my story of survival, loss, hope, and triumph.


    When I was 18, I met, at Church, a charming and successful man, who even though he was 11 years older than me, was someone I thought I wanted to be with forever. He swept me off my feet. I married him at 19, and 3 months after we wed physical violence in my marriage became a reality. I left and returned to the marriage numerous times over a 9 year period, devastated by the circumstances, but still very young and naïve, with the constant promise of better things to come and hope that he would change. When I was ready to walk away we had a son so I stayed thinking I needed to protect him. Two years later we had a daughter. I became super Mom, super wife, super everything.


    In April 2009, when my kids were 12 and 10 my husband came home and told me he’d been having a 3 year relationship with my best friend. He said it was over with her and he wanted to be with me. In June, 2 months later, I overheard him having a conversation on his cell phone with a co-worker and realized he was also having an affair with her, which appeared to have been going on for about a year. It was July of 2009 and I was broken. All the years of being with him. I was depressed. I had gained 50 lbs that year. I was being crowded out by his multiple affairs. The frequency of the abuse was increasing again. I was a shell of myself inside and out. I couldn’t imagine spending another day with him, let alone another week, month or year. I was unable to be super-anything anymore.


    On October 1st, my husband came into our home office and went into a rage. He punched me, choked me, and threw me across the room. I finally told my children about their dad and knew it was time to leave. October 15th, 2009 I went to court and received an Emergency Protection Order (EPO) and it was put into place for one year. We walked out of the mediation room and he looked me in the eye and said, “you may have won here, but I will win in the hearts and the minds of our children!” I had no idea what that meant and carried on.


    In October 2010 my ex-husband began manipulating our children. They came home saying, “Daddy says if we don’t go and live with him ALL the time he will move away to Australia and never see us again”, “Daddy says nothing ever happened between you two, you’ve made it all up, we never saw anything happen and it’s you breaking up our family when he doesn’t want to, he still loves you”, “Daddy says he’s going to kill himself”. I tried to help my kids understand, and got my lawyer involved to try to stop the manipulation. By the time the courts did anything I had lost them both. My daughter is now 15 and my son is 17, for three and a half years they have had nothing to do with me. Gifts I sent them were returned unopened, emails, letter, texts were not responded to. Anything associated with me he has been cut off: their Grandma, all my family, any friends they had from when they were young, swimming, and piano lessons with their favorite teacher.


    I became depressed as I grieved their loss and gained another 70 lbs as I medicated myself with food. Finally in November of 2012, by court order, my kids were assessed and diagnosed with Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). When the ruling came down from the Doctor’s report, I wasn't sure I wanted to live. Food became my drug of choice and I was trying to kill myself with it. If it was bad for me, I ate it, as much of it as I could. I specifically chose unhealthy, high in fat, high in sugar meals. I was numb, and it was the only thing that made me feel. I wanted to feel something, anything.


    I came out of court in November emotionally, mentally, and physically broken, in no position to help my children if they came back. After 3 years of fighting for my kids, having gained 120 lbs, depressed, and grieving I had to make a decision about my future. I believed, truly believed, my kids would come back to me some day, and if and when that took place, they were going to need help coping with what happened to them. I then realized I needed to make the decision to live or die. I chose to live. I had dedicated and sacrificed my life, happiness, and health to them and it wasn't going to be in vain. I needed to be mentally, emotionally and physically well. It was time to regroup, recharge, and reset.


    In December of 2012 I decided to sell my house and quit my job. I needed the equity in my home to do what I had in mind. In June of 2013 my house was sold and the day after I quit my job. I took 3 weeks to get things in order, then I got in my car and drove to southern Utah, to Fitness Ridge, for boot camp. I hadn’t intended on staying there the whole time, but after 3 days I knew everything I needed to heal was there. It was the beginning of an amazing journey back to living.


    A year later I am now in the best shape of my life. I walked out of Fitness Ridge as the longest guest they had ever had, 8 months and one week. April 19th, 2014 was my last day there, 100.3 lbs lighter and whole again. Part of the program at Fitness Ridge is a 2 hour hike in the beautiful mountains of southern Utah every morning. Never having hiked before, I was afraid. Every step I took was slow, fatigued and encumbered.


    In those 8 months I became an expert hiker and in February while still in Utah I took a 3 week break from Fitness Ridge and booked a trip to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. It was extraordinarily difficult, but I summited. I made it taking the hardest of the seven routes to the top and summited during the worst winter snow storm one guide said he had seen in two decades. Less than 40 percent were able to summit that day and possibly as few as 10 percent. My mother even managed to convince my daughter to come with us and we were able to bond there. While my daughter and I have a long way to go we have finally begun to rebuild a relationship, and as that has happened my son has also started to come around. I even got a card from both of them on Mother's Day this year.


    As I shed each one of those pounds that I had gained through the traumatic experiences that occurred, I not only found myself again after 25 years of being in an abusive marriage and the subsequent loss of my children, but I became an athlete. I'm within 10 lbs of my weight goal for the first time in 7 years. I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and it brought my children back.


    I started running while I was at Fitness Ridge and I ran my first half marathon when a group of guests roped me into the Snow Canyon Half Marathon 5 days before the race. I was very slow, and could barely walk the whole week after but I managed to run the whole distance. I'm now on a quest to run a half Marathon on each of the 7 continents by February and be inducted into the Seven Continents Club. Less than 300 women have been inducted into the Club since its inception and I'm anxious to be the next one.


    Hope, prayer, faith and sweat bring about miracles

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