ESM Podcast: Episode #14: 116lb Weight Loss Success Story—Laina Harris

Photos By: Troy Wayrynen, The Columbian Newspaper


It’s been awhile since I posted an interview, but I promise the one you’re about to hear will make up for my long absence.

With all my past interviews, each person I spoke to had lost a huge amount of weight and was either at, or very close to, their goal weight.

This time, I interviewed a woman, Laina Harris, who has lost a great deal of weight, but is still very much committed to the process of losing weight and getting healthy.

Last year, after the death of her mother, Laina began to approach her own life differently. Weighing over 400lbs, she realized her weight was keeping her from living a full, and content life. She began by changing her diet and walking around her neighborhood. Doing both has lead to a passion for both fresh, whole foods and long, challenging hikes. Also, in the midst of her weight loss, her local newspaper is publishing articles detailing her progress.

To date, Laina Harris has lost 116lbs. As you listen to her speak, you’ll hear how the weight loss has lead to many life gains.

Enjoy the interview!

Time: 77 minutes


Laina’s blog.

Laina on Twitter.

Laina on Facebook.

The Columbian newspaper articles profiling Laina: May, 2012, July, 2012, and September 2012.

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Ice Cream Junkie…

Today marks the first day I am going to totally follow the Six Week Body Makeover plan as it was designed.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been easing myself into it. All the groceries I buy only consist of food that’s on the plan. The days I’m “on plan”, I eat every two and a half hours and write down everything.

For the days I’m not on it, I allow myself to order takeout. The thing is, takeout just isn’t as satisfying as it used to be. There are so many things I just can’t eat anymore because they either lead to serious (and uncomfortable) gas issues or me spending a lot of time on the toilet within minutes of eating. Cheese, the food I used to love as a child, is now something my digestive system just can’t handle. Anything fried is the worst.

I’ve come to realize I feel better when I’m eating less processed food along with some animal protein. I don’t have any physical issues and, mentally, I’m clear and less irritable.

It’s the mental cravings that drive me insane. Out of the blue, I’ll mentally crave something like ice cream (something I rarely eat). I tell myself ice cream isn’t a good idea. I’ll feel sick after eating it. I tell myself it’s way too high in fat and sugar and is absolutely not part of the 6WBMO. I tell myself that, because I can’t eat it moderation, it wouldn’t be worth it. But like a relentless child who won’t accept “No” or logic or even a compromise, the “I really want some ice cream,” thought repeats in my brain. In the past, when I do give in, the usual promise I make to myself is that this is the last time…tomorrow I start getting serious and disciplined.

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve told myself that. Of course, it was never the last time nor was anything really different the next day.

I’m sure if I just give myself enough time consistently eating well the cravings will subside. Once I see more weight loss, the benefit of not eating crap will become a stronger motivation than my desire to have these foods.

Ugh. Is this “addiction”? Is this what people who drink or do drugs in excess go through as well?

On another note: I have two new interviews waiting to be transformed into podcasts for ESM. This will be my weekend project.

I also vow, tomorrow’s entry will be all about me doing the upper body workout I wrote about a few days ago.

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What Exactly Is “Stress”?

Today, while waiting for a UPS delivery and my organic food delivery, I was listening to a couple of shows on BlogTalkRadio. I have come to love and appreciate that Web site. I discovered the site a couple of years ago. I’ve called into several shows to ask questions. Being the information addict that I am, I’m grateful to have been able to tap into the knowledge of various experts.

During the News for the Soul show, I called in for a medical intuitive reading. I’ve never had one of those before. Helen, the woman who did the reading, really surprised me with her accuracy. She picked up my thyroid issues and offered insight into my stressed adrenals. Granted, a bazillion people have thyroid/adrenal issues, but it’s when she picked up on my congested ears that she got my attention. I’ve had issues with my ears for years. On occasion, I’ll spray decongestant up my nose, but for the most part I just deal with the discomfort. Oddly enough, the only time I’ve ever gotten total relief from my ear congestion was last winter when I was juicing a lot of citrus. I’m not sure if it was the lemon juice that was clearing out my ears/sinuses or the grapefruit juice or the combination of juices.

She recommended that I rest my body and mind a lot more to help relieve stress. I feel conflicted about that. I’ve gone to great lengths to create a life that isn’t stressful in the ways most people’s lives are. I’m not dealing with a hectic job, juggling the needs of a family, or am under any sort of external-inspired pressure, yet I do feel this constant turmoil inside. The thing is, I have a hard time labeling it as “stress” because it doesn’t fit the image of what I think stress is (if that makes sense).

For me, the tension comes from not being able to let go of the past.

On the other show I called into, Weight Loss Guru Radio, I got to ask about being able to focus while working out. Part of the reason why I resist working out because I’m so used to my brain being in a rapid-fire state all the time and I avoid anything that would be boring (like be on a treadmill for any length of time). So, of course, the answer would be: find something that is both physically and cognitively stimulating.

Something else the guy I posed the question to said stuck with me. I told him I had a hard time focusing on things. He wondered whether it was more like I could focus, but had gotten used to focusing for short periods of time. That made sense to me. When I went to the Robert McKee seminar, I was focused for hours at a time. When I get into the flow of writing or editing or blog design. I am laser focused.

The power of self-talk is something we’re all aware of. It just still amazes me how I can repeatedly think something about myself (”I can’t focus.”) and stay stuck in that loop until someone challenges that belief I have of myself.

Here;s the episodes of the shows I called into:

Listen to internet radio with News for the Soul on Blog Talk Radio

Listen to internet radio with Weight Loss Guru X Pete Cohen on Blog Talk Radio

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WKBT Anchor Jennifer Livingston Responds to Critiicism About Her Weight

A friend sent me a link to the video of Jennifer Livingston addressing an e-mail she received from a viewer. This text was included in the description of the YouTube video:

WKBT anchor Jennifer Livingston took a moment during Tuesday’s morning newscast (Oct. 2, 2012) to directly address a recent email she received from a viewer complaining about her weight.

“To the person who wrote me that letter — do you think I don’t know that? That your cruel words are pointing out something that I don’t see?” Livingston asked in response. “You don’t know me. You are not a friend of mine. You are not a part of my family. And you have admitted that you don’t watch this show. So you know nothing about me but what you see on the outside. And I am much more than a number on the scale.”


When the issue of weight comes up and it sparks a huge public debate, I end up with mixed feelings.

Two things came to mind when I watched the video:

Jennifer said she’s not defined by a number on a scale and how there’s so much more to her than her weight. I can relate. I’ve talked about this within my videos. When I interact with people, I feel myself silently pleading that they can see beyond my weight and give me the chance to show them I’m so much more than just someone carrying a lot of excess weight. Not only that, but if they took that chance, they’d be rewarded for it by having my loyalty and experiencing my generosity and acceptance of them.

Come to think of it, that’s something I’ve been doing all my life. Before my weight became the focal point of my identity, I was shunned because I was born with Nystagmus. When I was a teenager, I was thought of as being the trouble maker. Certain jobs I’ve had lead to people defining me in a narrow and negative way. Then, eventually, it became about my weight.

Is it just me this has happened to? Are we all misunderstood to one degree or another and have that yearning for someone to see us for who we really are?

The second thing that came to mind was a memoir I read a few years ago called Designated Fat Girl: A Memoir by Jennifer Joyner. Within the book, the author talks about having the dream of being a news anchor but, because of her weight, never realized that dream. She did radio. She worked in the newsroom. However, her weight kept her from what she wanted most.

Seeing Jennifer Livingston being overweight and having a career as an anchor reminded me of all the things (and there are a lot of things) I haven’t allowed myself to do because of my weight. I respect her for getting in front of the camera every day knowing full well she doesn’t fit the mold of what we’ve come to believe female TV personalities should look like. I think it takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there rather than hiding (as I do) and constantly bargaining with yourself that you’ll finally fulfill your dreams and potential once you lose the weight…only to end up ordering a pizza a few hours later (as I have done).

So, while I applaud Jennifer for the choices she made and the things she said in the video, there’s also a part of me that wishes this wasn’t an issue that got so much attention and so much backlash.

I watched another video (which I can’t embed) entitled New study suggests being overweight is the new normal.

When I saw the headline, I sighed deeply. While I don’t myself, nor anyone else who is carrying extra weight, to be treated badly, I don’t want being overweight to be thought of as “the new normal”. I don’t want to be shamed into losing weight, but I don’t want the world to adapt so much that we focus more on “fat acceptance” and less on getting physically and emotionally healthy.

Then I watched the video. Within it, there’s two women–the news anchor and a researcher who was part of a study on childhood obesity–talking about the rise of weight gain. The anchor is clearly disgusted and appalled by the idea of a growing overweight population being thought of as “normal”. She can’t hold back her disdain and can’t fathom why more people are becoming overweight when we should all know by now it’s unhealthy.

And it’s that kind of reaction that agitates me.

It’s not like overweight people are trying to convince anyone being fat is alright or somehow justifiable. Of course we know it’s unhealthy. How is being disapproving going to help things?

To summarize my confusion: It’s like I don’t want people to be fully accepting, but I don’t want them to be disgusted either. I guess the thing I hope for is that people begin to realize that obese people aren’t out of control, lazy, stupid, horrid people whose lifestyle choices are offensive. I’d like them to realize there’s a whole lot more going on under the surface and to have some compassion for that.

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Yearning To Do a Kelly Coffey Meyer Workout

My sleeping schedule is completely out of whack again. Today was the worst. After staying up all night, I got, maybe, three hours of sleep before I was woken up by the alarm. I had to wake up to call the therapist I’ve been doing phone sessions with for the past couple of months. (More about that in a future blog post.)

After the session, I ordered out for food. Submarine sandwiches to be exact. Lately, for some odd reason, I’ve been craving tuna. Granted, a mayo-laden tuna salad sub isn’t exactly the healthiest way to take care of a fish craving. Nevertheless, it is a lot healthier than a lot of my past food choices and contains far less sodium.

I went back to bed and slept for a couple of hours before my ringing phone woke me up. After the call, I went back to sleep. A couple of hours later, same scenario.

As I write this, it’s just after midnight and I’m exhausted. I really want to do a workout, but I just don’t have the energy. I’m going to wrap a few things up, go to bed, and hope I get some decent sleep and get back to my goal of having a 2AM bedtime and wakeup time of 10AM.

The thing that’s most frustrating is that there’s a few workouts I found that I am dying to try. I’ll include videos of them below.

What the hell is wrong with me? I want to workout. I have tons of time to workout. I have many workout options. Yet, at every moment of the day, I choose to do something else and not workout.

I feel so disconnected from my body right now. It’s so frustrating. I feel like all these rapid-fire thoughts going through my mind are more powerful than the yearning I have to change my body. By “rapid-fire thoughts” I’m referring to my obsession with researching things. I’m constantly reading about things, and people, that really have nothing to do my goals. It’s everything from wondering about random people I haven’t thought about in years and searching for them on Facebook to watching an incredible 8-hour British miniseries that aired in the 90’s and then finding out as much as I possibly can about the guy who wrote it. (The miniseries is called Holding On and the writer is Tony Marchant.)

The one good thing about researching Tony Marchant was that he inspired me. In an interview, he mentions how he does his writing at libraries. I thought that was brilliant. I need to get out of my apartment to write. I didn’t want to go to a coffee shop (total cliché) or a food court (too noisy). A library is perfect. I live four blocks from one. Ideally, I’d wake up in the morning, workout, and at a certain time, walk to the library to write for an hour or so.

If only I could get my sleeping in order to be able to do that…

I love intellectual stimulation so much, but I know there’s a price I’m paying for it.

The workouts I mentioned:

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The beginning of October…

I’m determined to finish out this year with some success.

The last few weeks have pretty good when it comes to food.

I’ve cut back a lot on ordering takeout to just a couple of times a week. The food I am eating is with the Six Week Body Makeover food recommended list. When I eat, I also follow the recommended portions.

Now that I’m eating smaller portions, I think back to how much food I used to eat. I honestly never thought I ate that much. Um. Yeah. I did.

Honestly, it surprises me that I really do need so little food as long as I eat every few hours. Looking back, I think where I would go wrong is letting myself get really, really hungry and then buy into this logic that, if I’m so hungry, it’s going to take a lot of food to subside the hunger.

Not only that, but considering I’ve eaten takeout 70 percent of the time and cooked about 30 percent, I’ve always ordered way more food than I needed. Most places have a minimum delivery charge of $20. You can actually get a lot of food for $20.

I’m not exactly sure why it is that, when I did order takeout, I didn’t eat some of it and then leave the rest for the next day. For years, I’ve been in this cycle of not eating for almost 24 hours and then binging.

Well, hopefully I’m slowly backing away from that pattern. Right now, I find that I can stay on track as long as I eat every 2-3 hours. Any longer than that and I start making bad choices.

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