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The Things We Can Control

“I have more energy, I am more active, and I can attend more activities and events with her. That’s what’s important. That’s what mothers are supposed to do with children, is to be there for them.”

Vanessa had high blood pressure, but lost 38 pounds on OurSkinny. Two years later, she has kept the weight off and is no longer taking medications. Vanessa Kaigler remembers the doctor's appointment clearly. “My physician was very honest with me about my weight.” “He said I really needed to lose weight, for the long term, for my health. We had talked about it over the years, but I could see in his eyes that he was very serious and very concerned.” Vanessa had made up her mind right there in the doctor’s office, but there were other factors that drove her decision as well. “I have a daughter who is extremely active, and I wanted to make sure that I could keep up with her and be a good mom and be around for a long time.” “So it was a commitment for the long term, for my family and for my health.”




Vanessa had tried other programs, but when her husband recommended OurSkinny, her search for a weight loss solution was ended. “I tasted it, and it was delicious.” “Four shakes a day, and you’re doing your bar—that was my treat—and following that established meal plan. It gives you that structure. It doesn’t leave anything to chance. 'If you follow the plan as it is written,' I tell people, ‘These are the results.’ I am someone you can see, someone you can touch, who actually followed the plan as written.”

Vanessa has been maintaining her weight for over a year now, and she is happy to share her secrets: “I had copies of the plan in my office. There were copies of the plan in my home and in my car.” “I never left home without a shake in my purse. If I was away from home or away from the office, going to a meeting or leaving a meeting, I always knew I could grab a shake, as opposed to going to a drive-through window.”

“That’s what I tell people now. When you pick up your purse, like picking up your car keys, you pick up a shake and just take it with you.”

The prevalence of high blood pressure in the African American community is among the highest in the world, affecting more than 40 percent of non-Hispanic blacks. Genetics are a factor, but Vanessa’s doctor thought her hypertension had more to do with her weight.

“I always thought it was genetic,” Vanessa says now. “I thought I was supposed to be on blood pressure medications, just like I was supposed to be heavy, because most of my family members were heavy.” Once she started losing weight with OurSkinny, Vanessa’s visits to the doctor got more interesting: “We started noticing that my pressure was going down, lower, lower, until my doctor said, ‘We are going have to wean you off of your medications.’”

“It was an awesome feeling, because they always tell you that once you are on high blood pressure medications you are on them for life.”

Vanessa’s doctor told her that she would have to keep the weight off if she wanted to stay off her blood pressure medications, but she didn’t need any extra motivation. “I want to live a long time. I want to live a long, healthy, and productive life. I want to be active in my old age.”

These days, she’s much more conscious of what she eats and when she eats it. For instance, “I am still not eating the fried chicken—if I fry something, I am going to have to go buy the oil, because I don’t fry. If I have to have the red velvet cupcake, it’s a half or a quarter of a red velvet cupcake, not the whole cupcake or a slice of cake.” “Those peas, beans, corn, and potatoes that I steered away from while I was on the program: I may eat them, but I eat them in moderation. It’s not something that I eat very often.”

Vanessa still enjoys an OurSkinny shake for breakfast (or maybe just Greek yogurt with some fruit in it) and, she notes, “I just continue to be very conscious of what I eat.”

Vanessa was happy enough not having to take medications anymore, but the weight loss has affected her life in other, unexpected ways. For one thing, she spiced up her wardrobe a bit. “You know, when I started looking in my closet, I didn’t realize it, but everything in my closet was black. Everything that I owned was black. I was covering up Vanessa.” “And I probably was not as outgoing.” She remembers the anxiety that went along with having gained five more pounds, wondering what others might think when she walked into a room, but she doesn’t have to worry about that anymore.

“Now when I walk into a room,” she says, “I know everyone’s looking. Everybody’s looking like, ‘OH MY GOD you lost that weight.’ That’s really you!”

Best of all, as she had hoped, Vanessa is spending more time with her daughter. “I have more energy, I am more active, and I can attend more activities and events with her. That’s what’s important. That’s what mothers are supposed to do with children, is to be there for them.”

She is even hopeful that her own choices will have an impact on her daughter’s, and so far that seems to be the case. “I am the cook, so they have to eat what I cook. I am eating healthy so they eat healthy. And since mommy’s going to be health conscious, maybe she will be health conscious as well.”

Vanessa is one of OurSkinny’s all-stars and a source of inspiration for so many of her friends and co-workers here in Savannah, ready at a moment’s notice to share with them her new found philosophy: “I just love life. Last year was a very difficult year for me. I lost one friend who was 51 and another at 55. I have realized that we can control our destiny to a certain extent. We can help ourselves live longer by making healthier choices. Some of us are attacked with diseases that we may not have any control over—but those that we control—you do whatever it takes to get you where you need to be.


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