Hi, my name is Shannon Hill and I am 48 years old. I have battled my weight for the better part of my life. I was an overweight kid and was lucky enough to gain height between sixth and seventh grade which balanced me out a bit. If I were to see that girl now, I would see a healthy young woman, but I always felt different than everyone else because I was thicker. Little did I know that would become part of pop culture one day!
Fast forward to adulthood. I had my oldest child when I was 18 years old. Although this was a gift and a blessing, I was absolutely unprepared and not capable in the way I believed myself to be. I was young and had been very sheltered and grew up in a strict household. I wanted to be a teenager while I had this young person’s life in my hands. Needless to say, coping with being a parent so young took some toll on me, and likely my little one. I ended up keeping weight on from the pregnancy and with my bad health
habits and balancing being a young, single parent I was really frustrated with my weight.
So frustrated in fact, that I chose, yes CHOSE to begin using the street drug crystal meth to lose weight. My understanding of health and fitness was non-existent and all I was concerned about was my appearance. I went so far as to research the detrimental effects of the drug, bought some vitamins to counteract bone loss and set out to get my weight loss started.
Fast forward a few years and I had lost weight but I had almost lost everything else including my family, my job, and my home. Thankfully, my bottom was much higher than it could have been and I was able to get sober. With this gift of sobriety came the coping mechanism of eating. Emotional eating to fill the holes that my heart had from feeling as though I was never good enough for my father, for men, for society because I was always bigger than the average woman.
I ballooned up to well over 300 pounds and when my oldest was about 12, I finally took steps to lose the weight. I had an amazing trainer who was really helpful and positive, but I used fat burners, ate fat free foods, and didn’t really learn how to cope with my food issues. Short story for this phase is I lost over 100 pounds, but I did not keep it off for very long.
Over 20 years later, I was at a church retreat in 2018 and one of our activities included writing a prayer to God, sealing it in an envelope and bringing it to the group of women to pray over. We dropped our envelopes in a pile and the group surrounded it and prayed over each of our letters – but they all remained sealed. We each picked our own envelope back up and took it with us to refer back to for praise reports. My letter included an ask to God to get my health back in order.
In March 2020…well we all know what happened. The world as we knew it came to a halt and we all found ourselves quarantined and for me that meant homeschooling my 4 th grade son and working ridiculously long hours. As an HR leader, I was part of the group making decisions around how to protect our workforce during a global pandemic and that was stressful. So, as usual I found comfort in food. It was a way to support local businesses, right? Always an excuse to eat.
During this time, I attended a Bible study and Ms. Karen Mizell, whom I had known for several years through church was on the virtual study. I cannot remember an exact moment of her reminding us she was still coaching fitness virtually, but at some point I texted her and we began training. Prior to starting with her, I had begun eliminating processed foods and moving just a little bit more each day. We had adopted a dog in December of 2019, so I started doing longer walks with him. I lost about 10 pounds or
so before Karen and I began working together.
About Miss Karen
Karen is probably one of the kindest, most beautiful souls I have ever met. As we began our journey, she approached me with a very gentle and informative approach. We did
measurements, talked about my goals which at that point consisted solely of feeling healthier and talked about a reasonable schedule for me. Now, here is where I should probably tell you I approach most things like a pit bull. I have an all or nothing mentality and I end up burning out.
We started with 3, 30 minutes sessions a week and it was so humbling to see how weak and out of shape I was. I was overly ambitious and started with 6AM sessions. I frequently ended up texting Karen to cancel because I didn’t have the discipline or motivation to get up, but she never let me cancel. She always had another option for me and I never went without a session. She met me where I was which was so critical for me to learn the discipline aspect of weight loss because we won’t feel motivated every day.
Before long, the sessions ceased being something I would seek to avoid; they became something to look forward to because Karen would coach me, encourage me, learn about me, and always have new suggestions to help the journey. I had started out with a simple goal instead of an all or nothing mentality and I believe this was key in my being successful this time around. We did weigh ins each week and the weight was coming off quickly. I lost around `100 lbs during our first year of working out together.
I lost an additional 40+ over the next year, but that second year was challenging in that I wasn’t seeing the same results as quickly. I added a Peloton bike and tread which were also really helpful, but a real difference maker for me has been to focus on my strength training. Karen gave me the perfect foundation to keep adding and refining and today I continue training with her for accountability although she has coached me so well I CAN train on my own.
Today I work out in my garage or my living room using all of the foundational tools and concepts Karen has shared with me throughout our time together. She checks in on me, she lifts me up, she’s a part-time therapist but I think what sets Karen apart from anyone else is her heart. She truly cares about her clients. She wants the whole person to be whole, not just the body. She is also of a demeanor that is never intimidating or judgmental which I have experienced with other trainers. Karen is hands down a unicorn!
In early 2022, I pulled that envelope from the church retreat that contained my prayer to God about my health. I knew it was about my weight, but when I read it I was overwhelmed. In it, I had asked God to help me eliminate soda, eat less processed foods, walk 3-4 times a week and to help break my food and work addictions. It had been over 3 years since I wrote the letter and I was stunned beyond words at the precision with which my prayer had been answered. God ordered my steps and answered every request I made in that letter. I had forgotten the details of that letter, but God didn’t. He sent me Karen. She gave me the structure, the nurturing, the tools, and the patience to get me to the other side of my fitness journey. I also know that it took 2 years for me to take the actual steps because it is always in God’s timing.
Karen has a nutrition background, a fitness background, she is kind, tolerant, patient, and she can modify around any excuse someone tosses at her.
I am so grateful for my journey and I look forward to all I still have to conquer and experience.
Much love to My Karen!