‘I shouted to my husband, ‘I think I’m having a heart attack!’ There I was, lying naked on the table as they announced my weight. ‘249 pounds.’: Mom of 3 loses ‘whopping 125 pounds’ after nearly fatal heart attack

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“I remember being wheeled into the hospital room, hearing the thump of the wheels across the floor, bustling hospital staff shuffling patients back and forth, but all I could see were the dark eyes of my doctor when hovered over the rail of that hospital bed. He told me, ‘This is a wake up call, Adrienne. A second chance at life.’ October of 2014, the day I nearly had a heart attack.

I remember experiencing the most horrendous pain shoot up my left arm, an overwhelming impending sense of doom came over me. I shouted to my husband David, ‘I think I am having a heart attack!’ Rushed to the hospital, they began frantically doing tests to see what exactly was happening. My troponin levels were elevated, which is indicative of heart damage. The next step was a heart cath. There I was, lying naked on the table, as they announced my weight and moved me to the procedure table. ‘249 pounds.’ I was alone, naked, vulnerable, helpless, and the only thing I could do was pray. ‘Please, God, don’t let me die. My three children still need me.’

And boy was that a wake up call. I heard it loud and clear. If I didn’t make a change, I may not have a life TO change. I was sent home from the hospital after three days with high blood pressure meds, an oxygen tank and a sleep test. Me? A 36-year-old mom? Then began the struggle of ‘fixing’ myself.

Growing up, I was a pretty active kid. I was in gymnastics, always involved in different sports even if I wasn’t the best at them, and then went on to play in the marching band in high school. I had the best supportive parents who always encouraged me to dream big and succeed.  Gymnastics was my favorite sport growing up. I felt so confident and strong tumbling and facing my fears on the balance beam. I had the best instructor, David, whom would pick me up, playing me like an air guitar to Van Halen’s song Jump. But then, he moved and a new instructor showed up. She leaned over to me and asked if I had swallowed a watermelon. Talk about a crushing statement! Was my belly that big to look as though I swallowed a watermelon?

Courtesy of Adrienne Brainard

Suddenly, I became more aware of what my body looked like and then came the comparison trap. I’d look at my body and would compare my size to other girls my age. ‘My thighs are so much bigger than hers..’ Then those thoughts turned into feelings of uncertainty over my body. In high school, I heard the whispers of others in my algebra class: ‘Look at how tight her pants are, she can’t even fit into them.’ My mind would spiral and conjure up others’ thoughts about me. It began stealing my joy, and ultimately my ability to truly use my God-given gifts and abilities to live in true freedom. I always remember telling my mom, ‘Those people are staring at me!’ And she would lovingly remind me, ‘It is because they’ve never seen anyone so beautiful.’

Courtesy of Adrienne Brainard

I still love that statement and it resonates with me today, being a mom of three amazing children. Ashley, 19, Austin, 14, and Annabelle who is 12. They are my reason for changing my life. But as a new wife and mom, I became complacent in who I was. I didn’t want to admit to myself that I had actually gained so much weight and I was in denial of my circumstances.

Courtesy of Adrienne Brainard

Yet, I had no energy or desire to do the simple tasks like clean the house or cook dinner. I remember my kids shouting at me to ‘WAKE UP’ while myself falling asleep mid-day during homeschool. There were days I just felt like I couldn’t get enough sleep. No matter how much I slept, I was never rested. I never wanted to take pictures of myself because it was a reminder of where I was at the time. I hid behind my kids, or cropped half my body out before I shared it. My circumstances had become who I was. I was stuck. I didn’t have the energy or desire to change, and I had accepted I was just going to be obese the rest of my life. I lacked desire, time or energy for myself, my husband or my three children, but when I saw my children begin to gain weight along with me, I knew I needed a change.

Courtesy of Adrienne Brainard

‘Sometimes, you need to lose who you were to find who you are.’

They deserved a better mom and a better example. The lazy way of eating and living was taking my family on a dangerous downward spiral. I knew if I did not fight for my life, nobody else would do it for me. I had to face my fears and do it anyway.

Courtesy of Adrienne Brainard

One of the biggest challenges I faced was learning how much and what I should eat. I loved cooking and enjoying life, but I was addicted to fast food. I ate out of comfort or boredom. Having a healthy relationship with food is vital! I also had to recognize my problem wasn’t solely my weight. It was a self-love problem, a self-respect problem, a self-defeating problem. Once I decided I was worth fighting for, and truly surrendered and became honest with myself, I was able to make a change. I no longer became a number on the scale or a pants size.  I loved myself enough each day to begin making healthier food choices through portion control and in-home workout programs through Beachbody.

Courtesy of Adrienne Brainard

It was hard. Somedays, I cried through the workouts, struggling to lift my three-pound weight or even hold myself up in a plank. There was no way I could do any push up, pull up, or any ‘ups.’ But, I did what I could, showed up each day, and remembered my why. There were days where it felt so hard, my legs would shake like jello, and I’d just cry and pray I could get through it. I had to dig deep, remember my why and just keep going. One day at a time, one pound at at time. There will be days you’ll want to quit, but don’t. The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed.

When I began to see results, and others around me began to notice, it was eye opening. ‘You don’t even look like the same person!’ ‘Did you want to loose weight? Are you sick?’ ‘You can stop now, you’ve lost enough.’ ‘You’re going to waste away.’ ‘You’ve got too many muscles.’ Those phrases would rock me to my core. Body shaming can happen, no matter what your size. To this I say, screw societies view of what ‘beautiful’ is. Just be YOU. You will have doubters, naysayers, people who won’t be able to handle your success, but cling to those who support you. Find an accountability group, others to walk the journey with.

Each day, the labels I had placed on myself started to transform along with my body. The brokenness inside of me became restored, the fear, shame, and rejection began to fade and I started feeing energized, empowered, happy, and I remembered I was made for more.

Courtesy of Adrienne Brainard

I am very proud of the fact that in 22 months, I lost half of myself. A whopping 122 pounds! (100 pounds were gone before 1 year was up!) Now, I am in the best shape of my life. The discipline and confidence I have gained is amazing. I no longer want to hide behind my children during pictures. I have gained so much muscle and I feel so strong! My life has completely changed and I feel alive again! My workouts are a priority, my family has become more aware of what they eat and how active they are. My mission is to share my story to help empower others who feel stuck In their circumstances. You don’t have to remain there.

Courtesy of Adrienne Brainard
Courtesy of Adrienne Brainard
Courtesy of Adrienne Brainard
Courtesy of Adrienne Brainard

Transformation. What does that mean?
For me it means:
Hiding behind the scenes to using my story to help others.
Inferiority to empowered.
Plagued by the thoughts of others to being authentically me.
Tired, no energy for my family to having abundant energy.
Believing I was stuck and losing the weight was impossible to cutting my body weight in HALF.
Using the excuse that I was not disciplined to having true grit and drive.
Feeling left out to being loved and accepted.
Guilt to grace.
Shame to confident.
Not worthy to worthiness.

You are worth it. The only thing worse than giving up is wishing you hadn’t. There will be failures, set backs, days you want to quit, but all that struggle will help take you to the next mountain. I know how overwhelming it is when those voices in your mind tell you its too hard, you’re not worthy, or you’ll never be ‘that’ person. All those thoughts are real and hard to face. But, you are made to feel happy and confident in your own skin. You are worth finding freedom from the comparison trap. You are beautiful just how you are, right now, no matter what. Maybe you aren’t struggling with your weight, or feelings of inferiority like I was. Maybe your story is completely different. But, if there’s a part of your story you don’t like, you can change it. You don’t have to stay stuck. You were made to shine.

‘Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of you doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might as well put that passing time to the best possible use.’ – Earl Nightingale”

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Courtesy of Adrienne Brainard

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Adrienne of Las Cruces, New Mexico. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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