Shelli Ponce could hardly contain her emotion as she approached the 5K starting line, as a participant of the inaugural S.O.S. (Support Oakdale Schools) Family Fun Run/Walk just over a week ago.
The 5K run through Oakdale city streets proved to be more than a roughly 3-mile jog for the Oakdale High School varsity volleyball coach; it was an accomplishment, a long time coming.
Just minutes following her cross of the finish line, Ponce said she could hardly believe what she had achieved.
“I just completed my first 5K run,” the mother of four proclaimed. “One year ago, I would never have thought this possible, but I’m here and I did it.”
With tear-filled eyes, Ponce admitted to being shocked by her emotion, but proud of her accomplishment.
Just one year ago and 90 pounds heavier than she is now, Ponce faced her breaking point. As she visited her family doctor for a routine examine, feeling helpless and frustrated by her 250-pound weight, Ponce wept.
“I went to the doctor and just cried,” she recalled. “I said, I’ve got to do something more, to feel better.
“I was disgusted with myself.”
Her family doctor recommended a program he not only believed in, but he had witnessed work firsthand for his wife.
“It really has been an incredible journey,” Ponce said of her non-invasive weight loss.
“One year ago, I could only walk 15 minutes before getting tired. Now, I’ve run a 5K. I have not been this size since probably my freshman year in high school.”
According to Ponce, her story is not dissimilar from most wives and mothers. Gaining 60 pounds with one pregnancy, then losing some, only to gain it back with a little more on the next pregnancy.
The program recommended by her doctor was Take Shape for Life, an Internet based program, comprised of five mini meals a day and one larger ‘lean green meal,’ as well as the help and assistance of a Health Coach.
“This meal plan is exactly what I need for my busy lifestyle,” Ponce stated. She also shared that, as a mother of four between the ages of 16 and 24, in addition to being the OHS varsity volleyball coach and a school secretary at Fair Oaks Elementary School, meal planning can be challenging.
“I can stick with my meal plans during the day, then go home at night and enjoy a nice healthy meal with my family,” she explained. “These small meals are perfect in nutrition and quick and easy. This is not a diet, it’s a life changing program.”
A program, which has changed her life so much, that she is now a Health Coach herself.
The 90-pound lighter Ponce said she began believing in herself following the first 65 pounds she lost before the start of the 2009-2010 school year. Shopping for her ‘back to school’ clothes proved to be rewarding.
“I don’t have to go directly to the large women’s section,” she said. “I can pretty much shop anywhere now.
“It’s been fun,” she added, referring not only to the shopping, but the double takes of people seeing her for the first time.
“I’m still receiving compliments and I have a hard time receiving those compliments. I still struggle with those insecurities.”
But one thing Ponce no longer struggles with is her confidence with her volleyball team.
“It was definitely impeding my abilities as a coach,” she said. “I was not comfortable demonstrating. Now, I’m getting in and challenging them to do things.
“Basically, I’m just feeling good about myself. I just wanted this so bad, that I just kept plugging along.”
In addition to the six meals a day, the coach also eventually increased her exercise regimen.
“Three weeks into the program I started walking just 15 minutes a day and gradually built up to 45 minutes of just walking,” she said.
Post volleyball season, in November, she began visiting the gym three to five days a week.
“I would key in on a half an hour of cardio and then about 15 minutes of weights.”
Now, with approximately 45 of her own clients both locally and across the U.S., Ponce is taking her experience and paying it forward.
“It’s just awesome to have them call me or come up and say look what I’ve done,” she said of her clients. “Prior to this experience, I never would have thought of myself as a successful Health Coach. It’s really been fun.”