Super RFG Giveaway Voting is Open!

A huge THANK YOU to all the fabulous ladies that took the time to enter my first ever giveaway. I’ve read everyone’s stories and mulled it over, but I simply can’t choose only three finalists, so I chose six. Even that was hard! It seriously broke my heart a little each time I had to remove a story; I wanted to put all of you in! I know it’s a lot to read, but trust me, they’re worth it. Click on the little arrow next to each person’s name to expand their stories. Also, I apologize if there are no line breaks in some of the stories; the code keeps getting screwy each time I save this post.

1st Place: $100 American Express Gift Card
2nd & 3rd Place: $25 Gift Card to ANYWHEREZ
ALL OTHER ENTRANTS: $5 Gift Card to Starbucks, Amazon or iTunes PLUS a 750mL CamelBak Eddy (featured in the RFG Starter Kit)

The poll closes on Monday, January 7th at 11:59PM PST. Voting is a free-for-all, meaning you can vote for your one favorite, or several favorites, as many times as you’d like. Good luck to all!

[poll id=”2″] #1: Jill G. of Year of the Phoenix
Twitter/Blog: @Jill_Grun / The Year of the Phoenix
Progress: Almost to goal!
Pounds Lost: 126
Fitness Philosophy: Weight Watchers online, Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga, and running.
My Story:
In January 2011, I received an email from my little sister expressing concern about my weight. It was disheartening. As the eldest I was supposed to set the example, but instead I had let both her and myself down. In truth, I didn’t know the full extent of my problem until I was forced to buy a new scale: the one I owned didn’t go high enough. So it was that on January 24, 2011 I signed up for Weight Watchers Online, tipping the scales at an astounding 311 pounds.This is not my first time on Weight Watchers. It’s not even my second. When I signed up a week after that email, it was for the third time. But I knew the program worked: the previous times it wasn’t Weight Watchers that failed, but me. This time, however, I refused to fall back on old excuses. One of my proudest accomplishments is that I have weighed in every single week. It didn’t matter if I knew I had gained or was on vacation (I’ve even taken my scale on trips): over the past two years I have never missed weighing in.

In school, I always walked the annual mile, so my teenage self would be speechless to discover that not only have I taken up running, I have completed five 5Ks, will be running my first 10K in February, and have registered for an October 2013 half marathon. My body has grown long and lean thanks to yoga, a weekly ritual that has given me the chance to rediscover my sense of self. Through my blog, The Year of the Phoenix, I have been given the opportunity to share my story. Co-workers have signed up for WW after witnessing my transformation and I love hearing that I have inspired others to change their lives for the better. I’m not done yet, but I am focusing on the last leg of the race. With only 30 or so pounds to go, I know it’s going to get more difficult and require more work, but I’m confident I’ve been given the tools to succeed.

As it turns out, third time really is the charm.

Jill’s Before & In Progress Photos
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#2: Andrea S. of Voyage to Health
Twitter/Blog: @andrea_v2h / Voyage To Health
Progress: Halfway to goal!
Pounds Lost: 92
Fitness Philosophy: I started with and am currently using Weight Watchers.  I also used MyFitnessPal for several months.  I work out at the gym 5-6 days a week on the recumbent bike and treadmill.
My Story:
I have been dieting most of my life.  I remember attending Weight Watchers in elementary school with my mom (a relapsed lifetime member).  That was back in the days of exchanges.  As an adult, I’ve been through every iteration of the WW program from 1-2-3 Success to 360.  I even did Atkins for a while when that was all the rage.  While I’ve almost always had success losing weight, I could never stick with anything and maintain a loss.I’ve hit mental and physical low points twice in recent years.  The first was in 2009 when I saw pictures of myself for the first time in a very long time.  I was mortified at what I saw.  I joined Weight Watchers on 9/11/09, tipping the scale at 322 pounds.  (I don’t think I’ve shared that number with anyone outside of a few close family members.  It still hurts me to think about that number.)  I was very successful for about a year, but in typical (old) Andrea fashion, I fizzled out.  Fast forward to 2012…As cliché as it is, the day before my 30th birthday, I hit my rock bottom.  I was sitting at my desk scarfing down greasy Chinese food so fast I probably wasn’t even tasting it.  And all of a sudden I felt like I was hit by a ton of bricks.  I felt disgusting, physically and mentally.  That was it.  I was done.  I promptly logged into MyFitnessPal and tracked my day, as bad as it was.I still vividly remember that feeling to this day.  And I don’t ever want to feel it again.  I have tracked every day since then.  I even joined a gym three months ago.  Me, the person who would take the elevator DOWN one floor, now kicks ass at the gym 5-6 days a week.

I have discovered a whole new me that I love.  This time around I’ve been more focused on feeling good and taking care of myself.  The weight loss has just been a wonderful byproduct.  Again cliché, but weight loss truly is a mental game more than anything else.  I’ve finally figured that out and feel like I’m on track to hit my goal and maintain it for many years to come.In the last 3 years, I’ve lost 92 pounds and am currently at my lowest weight in probably close to a decade.  I’m wearing a freaking XL shirt today.  Not a 1X, an XL.  Hell yeah.

I know my story isn’t unique, but I think that’s the beauty of it.  Many people can relate to the struggles I’ve gone through.Being a finalist in this contest would provide validation of the hard work I have invested in the last several months (and years).  More importantly, being able to share my story with others makes me feel good.  Perhaps it’s arrogant to think maybe my story will help someone else out, but I know it helps me to read other people’s stories and see that I am not alone and that I CAN do this!

(Of course, the monetary prize would be nice too.  I’m on a limited budget and I would most definitely put any prize toward my weight loss journey, most likely in the form of healthy groceries or new clothes.)

Andrea’s Before & In Progress Photos
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#3: Anjelica M.
Progress: Almost to goal!
Pounds Lost: 92
Fitness Philosophy: I follow weight watchers pp and exercise
My Story:
I decided to loose weight and get healthy when I couldn’t keep up with my son. He is my world after all i had to go through just to have him. I’ve been pregnant before and lost my babies at 5 months gestation. I was told that i had a weak cervix and couldn’t carry a full term baby, but thanks to doctors they had a solution to sew my cervix and bed rest for my whole pregnancy and i finally had my little miracle. So, because of that bed rest I gained more weight. One day I just decided I’m going to weight watchers and start my journey.Now that i lost the weight i get to enjoy being a mom for many years to come. I am super proud of what I have accomplished so far.P.S. the world better not end on the 21 st of dec because I want to enjoy the new me. : )
Anjelica’s Before & In Progress Photos
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#4: Thao N.
#9: Thao N.
Twitter/Blog: @ticklemethao / Facebook.com/TickleMeThao
Progress: Almost to goal!
Pounds Lost: 70
Fitness Philosophy: I like to stay active. Sometimes (or a lot of times) I indulge in good food, which leads to guilt. Making sure that I sweat once a day helps me stay on track with my fitness. I sign up for half marathons, marathons, & triathlons months in advance so that I always have something to keep fit for!
My Story:
It was New Year’s Day 2009- my sister and friends wanted to go to Big Bear. I’d never been to the snow, much less ever been on a snowboard, so I thought it would be a fun experience. At the time I was overweight (approximately 215 lbs, no muscle, 5’4) and definitely did not expect a reality check on the mountain. I took my rented snowboard up the kid-friendly hill & immediately fell face first off the lift. Needless to say I was embarrassed at how clumsy I was. Then I tried to balance on the board, I COULD NOT GET UP. I could not maintain a standing position and my friends got frustrated trying to help me. Then, one ‘friend’ decided to be a smartass and tricked me into getting on a lift to the TOP of the mountain- he had told me that we were going to the 2nd bunny slope. Once I was at the top and flustered with the inability to glide EVEN 5 feet, I cried. I cried for a good hour while my sister and friends took a few runs down the hill and back. After 3 hours, the sun was setting and I had to get down. Humiliated because I was so out of shape, I refused to ask for a ride. I walked. It took me 2 hours to walk down the hill with my snowboard in hand, but it took falling to my lowest (literally!) to realize that I had to make a change. After that day, I committed to exercise and being accountable for my own body. NO more excuses were made from that day forward.My biggest milestone was my first marathon finish. I was a fan of The Biggest Loser on TV, and I watched it religiously during my journey- I didn’t even fast foward through the commercial break because that was when fitness and food tips were offered! On the show, the finalists run a marathon to culminate their success. Of course the TV show never showed how much training was necessary to run a marathon so I naturally thought- I WILL DO THAT TOO! I signed up for the Long Beach Marathon, which took place in 2 weeks from my sign-up date. I had no idea what I was in for, and I definitely did not comprehend what 26.2 miles would feel like, but I knew I had to do it. I attempted a 6 mile run/walk that next day after signing up. I got halfway and called for a ride home. That was exhausting! Running was so hard! I showed up to race-day anyway with a goal in mind. That Finish Line was mine. I didn’t care if I crawled to the end, I had to do it for myself, and to show everyone that nothing is ever impossible. 6.5 hours from the start line, I crossed the Finish to earn my first medal. I had never felt so accomplished in my whole life. I didn’t finish that marathon with my physical strength- all 26.2 miles were completed with my heart. I admit that I cried at the end of it, but this time, the tears were joyful.

Bowie IS THE BEST DOG EVER.

I would like to say the $100 would go to something gym or race-related, but honestly, I rarely get a chance to afford clothes so I would take that straight to Lululemon!! 😀

Thao’s Before & In Progress Photos
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#5: Brooke B. of Brooke: Not on a Diet!
Twitter/Blog: @babnotonadiet / Brooke: Not On A Diet!
Progress: Almost to goal!
Pounds Lost: 163.6
Fitness Philosophy: I’m a hardcore Weight Watcher. Well hardcore most of the time. 😉 I’m also an avid fitness DVD collector and love challenging myself with them.
My Story:
I stood in a dressing room desperately wanting a pair of skinny jeans. My cousin brought me another pair and tossed them over the door. I tried to shimmy in them, but they wouldn’t go above my thighs. I told her those didn’t work and she informed me those were the biggest size they had. I fought back tears and put back on my size 22 wide legged jeans.After that weekend with my cousin, I decided I needed to make a radical change. I was miserable in a relationship, unhappy with the way I looked, and overall depressed. A couple of weeks later I got rid of the relationship and joined my mom at a Weight Watchers meeting.That was almost 4 years ago. Today I’m 163.6lbs lighter, married to the man of my dreams, and happier than I have ever been. I can do things I never thought were possible. I can exercise for more than an hour, ride my bike 100miles in a month, and even run! I can also shop in any store I choose and no longer have to wear baggy clothes to hide myself. It is nothing short of amazing!

I never thought when I was 327.6lbs that I would be living the life I do now. Before my meals would come out of boxes and drive-thru windows. My body now craves real, whole foods and I absolutely love cooking. Vegging out in front of the TV or computer screen were ways to pass the time, now I much rather get up and be moving.

This journey has taught me that this is a lifestyle and not just a diet. I’m in this for the long haul and plan on leading my own Weight Watcher meetings in the future. I love this lifestyle and inspiring others. I never would have thought a moment in a dressing room would forever change my life.

Brooke’s Before & In Progress Photos
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#6: Kim A. of Kim's Journey
Twitter/Blog: @kimma2 / Kim’s Journey
Progress: Almost to goal!
Pounds Lost: 59
Fitness Philosophy: Weight Watchers, gym (mainly Les Mills programs) and running.
My Story:
The most I have ever weighed is 229 lbs.  I know this because I wrote the number down in a little book that I kept beside my bed.  I used to write down my measurements and my weight when I had decided that was it, I had enough.  It was a starting point and I always dreamed it would go down from there.  I would write the date and my weight and sometimes it would go down but it seemed I could never lose it and keep it off.  I tried many diets and plans but nothing worked.  In January of 2011 I had just had my second operation to repair the tendon in my ankle.  My sister had lost a lot of weight on Weight Watchers with the new points plan (it changed to points plus just before I started).  I kept thinking I can sit here and be jealous of my sister (and believe me I was very jealous!) or I can do it too!  I joined Weight Watchers January 14th and this time it clicked.  I really had it in my head that it was going to happen this time and it did.  My motto was “never doubt yourself”.  It was always when I get to goal, not if I get to goal.  April 13, 2012 I reached Lifetime status at Weight Watchers.  A very proud day indeed.  Although I have gained at bit over Christmas I have stayed pretty close to my goal since then.  I also started going to the gym as soon as my foot would allow.  I lost the first few months with no exercise at all!  I started slow with elliptical, and light weight training and yoga.  Then I started running and I added Body Pump classes 2-3 times a week at the gym.  I had many NSV’s along the way.  One was going to my Dr for a complete physical and not being scared to step on the scale and to not have to listen to the “weight talk”. Of course I am obsessed with shopping now and buying clothes in a regular store is as great as I knew it would be.  I ran my first 5K race in June 2012 and I still can’t believe I did it!  This year I am planning to run a 10K.  I am in the best shape I have been in years and it feels so good.  I am addicted to buying work out clothes so $100 would be great!  Of course I am biased because I think I have 2 of the best dogs in the world but I think Bowie and Siouxsie Sioux are adorable!
Kim’s Before & In Progress Photos
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