Sheena's Journey

Hi my name is Sheena.
I want to share with you my weight loss journey and tell you about finding myself.
Growing up I was by no means overweight or underweight. I was average. Yet, I often thought I was the biggest girl in my group of friends. I struggled with body image issues throughout junior and senior high school; because I didn’t know how to take care of myself. Those teenage years were tough for me, as they are for many, and life got worse when my little sister, Alix, was diagnosed with Cancer. She fought for 2 years but she passed away in 2004 when I was 18.
Alix and I were very close. For the time that she was here, she was my best friend. Junior and Senior high was rough for me with friends and peers and Alix would always be there to hang out with. She was a lot younger than me so our relationship had its challenges but we got along great, 99% of the time. I was devastated when she passed away. I honestly thought that she would be a miracle and that she would survive. I never imagined a life without Alix. My family pretty much fell apart when she died and I felt very ... lost would be the best way to describe it.
After loosing Alix, I began digging myself an early grave. I was eating unhealthy, drinking all the time, and smoking. I met my (now) husband, and we began sharing a very unhealthy life style. I got pregnant with my first baby, a daughter. Being both overweight and unhealthy, I had high blood pressure and ended up having  her prematurely. I'd gained 75lbs through that pregnancy but she was just over 2lbs when she was born. After her birth, I did work to lose some weight before life threw us another curve ball. Shortly after our wedding, my brother in law passed away from a drug overdose. I was in the room with Alix when she died and I was in the room with my brother in law when he died. This was all so triggering for me and despite my progresses, the unhealthy habits returned and soon became out of control.
However, I got pregnant with my second baby, a son. We had a pretty good idea that he too would be a premie because of my lifestyle coupled with high blood pressure and an unhealthy weight. I was put on bed rest to try and prevent him from coming early. Nonetheless he too was premature, for the same reasons I'd had my daughter early. He weighed only 4lbs at birth.
During my second pregnancy I reached at least 300lbs. That was the last number I saw on a scale (before I stopped weighing myself) and in that moment, I swore I was going to make a change to who I was. I told myself that I would never see that number go up, only down.
Right after having my son I began making changes to the way I live. I started focussing on eating just a little healthier each day. I joined Weight Watchers (WW) and I also committed to walking half hour every day. Initially I felt ashamed that I had to join WW. I hated that I couldn't lose and keep the weight off without help. But I joined and I worked at it. When I really started to feel great was when I was taken off my blood pressure pills after I lost my first 10%. I loved that I started feeling better and that I had more energy. I think my biggest struggle was not having any friends supporting me when I started this journey. I had my husband and my mother in law and I had my Weight Watchers meeting. That was about it. I had to learn how to do it pretty much all on my own and to put myself first. Unfortunately, by doing so, I lost a few good friends and some family when I started this journey. But what I got from my WW meetings was a great support system and some rewarding relationships. I also found a great leader which really helped me. She was someone my own age that could relate to everything that I was going through. (I'd often found that leaders at WW were older and that I could not relate to them at all. I remember at the first meeting I was going to, they would talk about having tea partys and going for walks around the Home Depot for outings. I was sitting there thinking 'I have people over for drinks not tea and we go to the bar for outings not Home Depot, so how do I stay on track'??!!) Finding a leader that I could relate to was huge for me. Someone that was young, with a busy life and young kids made me feel like I too could succeed.
In addition to taking action on my health and wellbeing, in the four years since my sons birth, I decided that I was going to go back to school and become a Legal Assistant. I ended up taking three part time jobs to make ends meet as my husbands income has significantly changed as a result to working in the oil and gas field here in Alberta. This has been a lot of change while maintaining focus on losing weight and living a healthier life. I am so grateful that I have the support of my family and my husband because without them I would never have been able to accomplish all that I have.

Everyday I balance caring for our two kids with my school, work, prepping meals, exercise, and finding time to be with my husband. It would be lie if I said it hasn't had moments of being utterly overwhelming. However, I keep going because I know that this is what I have to do to be happy and I am happier knowing that I am healthier. I don't need to worry about health issues because I take care of myself. I am no longer depressed and I have more confidence than I ever have before. It's all worth it.

Though I am much happier and much healthier, I still have a major hurtle ahead of me. That's why I am writing this letter and why I have started this page. Once I had lost 140lbs I just couldn’t lose anymore, despite my best efforts, support at home and in my WW meetings. I've lost a considerable amount and am proud of myself. I set my goal weight just outside of the top of a healthy BMI. Yet I still want to loose another 10/15lbs and be in a healthy BMI. I went to my doctor for support with this. He said that it was the excess skin that is preventing me from loosing any more weight and he immediately put me on a waiting list for surgery. I knew with loosing this much weight there would be extra skin but I didn't know to what extent. I also didn't know that with the extra skin comes health issues. Issues like retaining water, an inability to lose weight, and a high chance of infection. In addition to these health risks, I also struggle with body image issues because of this extra skin. I struggle to find clothes that hide it. I am frustrated that I am struggling to reach a healthier BMI because of the excess skin.
I was told that since I had lost such a huge amount of weight through an approved program, my skin removal surgery would be covered under Alberta Health Care. This was amazing news to me, it was like a gift for all the hard work I had put in and all the hard work I continue to put in. I was put on the waiting list and have patiently waited for over 2 years for a surgical consult. I just had my consultation on May 13th.
This could have been a very exciting time for me but I found out a week after the consult that the surgery is not in fact 100% covered. Only a portion of the procedure is. I am responsible for paying $7000 CDN if I want to proceed. In that moment my heart sunk. Knowing we don't have access to that kind of money at this time with, I was crushed. Had I been properly informed of the financial responsibilities at the onset, we could have planned for this. The fact that the surgery is only partially funded yet I am told no surgeon will perform a partial surgery, which I would not want any how, is maddening. Here I was, three months away from my surgery date and it seemed my only option was to go back to the bottom of the wait list and spend the next two years saving. I was sharing these thoughts at my WW meeting and my leader told told me about Go Fund Me. I was excited but drawn back at the same time. My first thoughts were 'I can’t be asking people for money'. But After sharing this idea with some close people in my life, they have made me realize that it is not selfish to ask for help and that there will be people who will read this story and be inspired and will want to help me continue my journey. After a lot of thought I have decided to ask for your financial support. We are working hard as a family to come up with as much money as we can. If you could donate any amount towards funding my skin removal surgery, I would be forever grateful. I have learnt and continue to learn so much about myself and who I am in this world and I want to help others in any way I can. I want to help people live happier, healthier, longer lives, and to love themselves! I am still a WW member and I attend meetings every week. I believe in paying it forward and am also now a leader with WW and run a meeting of my own once a week. I am a personal trainer for Fitbody Bootcamp. You can also follow me on Instagram @wwandfitnessbysheena for more of my on going story and tips on how I stay successful.
I want to thank you for reading my story and remember to always fight for yourself because you are worth it!!
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Sheena Shields
Edmonton, AB

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