Alright folks our very first WLS Fitness oriented contest has come to a close. After reading ALL of the essays submitted and after watching the one video submission we received, the judges have reached a verdict! and it is time to announce our contest winner. But before I do, I want to send a huge thank you to our Sponsors Kay’s Naturals, Celebrate Vitamins and Pace Setter Athletics for making this all possible. I have dreamed of a Bariatric Fitness contest of this caliber for a while and our these are the people who made it happen. Please show them some love!

Now, allow me to introduce you to Dawn Brell, our Official “How do YOU Celebrate Success.” Contest winner. Dawn is 37, from South Sioux City NE and when asked how she Celebrated Success in non-food oriented way this is what she had to say…


I celebrate success in a lot of constant small ways. I’ve done things I would’ve never done otherwise, I’ve gone places I would’ve never gone before, and I’m wanting to do something I never thought remotely possibly.

The things I’ve accomplished since my surgery have been nothing short of amazing. First let me say I’m not a very impulsive person. Big decisions for me require a lot of thought that usually result in my doing nothing. My best friend and I have talked for 4 years about attending a professional sporting event together. It would make him happy to hear I wanted to but due to my size and constant pain we never did. This year when it was announced that the NHL would have a season even with the lock out, I went on the first day of sales and bought us tickets to see the Colorado Avalanche (my team) play the Minnesota Wild (his team). I didn’t really consult him. I just did it. I waited 14 years to fit into my jersey and by God we were going. I was able walk to and from the game. I can’t explain the feeling I had when we got there. I was so happy for both of us as he is a WSL patient also. I was so proud of myself for being there I never worried if I could fit in the seat or if I would be in pain. I walked in head held high and had one of the best times of my life. That’s how I celebrate success.  My second celebration came after saying and neglecting to even try for 3 years to get my motorcycle permit I did it. I decided the new me could and would do this. Yes on my first attempt I didn’t pass but the fact that I even tried was more than the past and I would try again. Which I did and aced the second time.


I’ve had many other smaller successes. I’ve had two photo shoots to document my weight loss. Pictures of me were rare. I never wanted to be photographed because I didn’t like what I saw. Now I’m more than willing even if I’m not sure I look the best. It’s important to recognize the new me and my journey. I’ve learned to be comfortable in my own skin. Starting with buying and wearing clothes I was unsure of. Shorts and tank tops being a major challenge for me. I would photograph myself in the dressing room and send pics to all my friends asking for help. It would take hours to buy anything or maybe leave with nothing. Now I can pick it out, try it on and decide to buy in a few minutes. I now buy shorts that are shorts and not knee-length ones that hide everything and are too hot to wear. No shirts or long sleeves covering my saggy arms. I’ve learned that its ok. It’s a sign of what I’ve accomplished. I’m no longer scared or ashamed of the new me. I embrace her and try hard to show her to others. My telling my story (the good & the bad) to others has led to a friend getting WLS in a few weeks.

I celebrate success by honoring the gift of WLS and a shot at a good life to thank the person responsible for my being here now. When I say my surgery was a gift it honestly was. The company I worked for closed and I had to take cobra to get my surgery. Cobra set up my payment schedule but didn’t have all the information correct. My former employer also had issues with earnings reported to our state. I lost my income and my cobra was due to lapse because I’d been under paying. My best friend stepped in and began paying my insurance to be sure I got my surgery, to be sure I had a chance to live. My doctors said I would be lucky to see 40, I’m turning 38 this year. I’ve had to plan my own funeral. That’s how serious it was. I try to honor him by following the rules, by pushing myself to try new things, to step outside my comfort zone and not be afraid of everything all the time. Due to abuse in the past on all levels I hid away and let life pass me by. I hid so much that I had tickets to see my favorite band Halestorm 7 times last year. I only attended 2 because I was afraid to go alone. I don’t do that much anymore. I want to experience everything I can now.

Lastly I celebrate by showing the haters I can do this. People doubted I could lose weight to qualify for surgery. Although it was hard and I suffered chronic pain I did it. People doubted I would go through with surgery but I did it. Scared to death and hysterically crying in the operating room before hand but I did it. When I had complications and people thought I would give up, I stuck with it. I fought on even when I was so sick they wanted to feed through a tube. People doubted I would change and be a success but here I am 138 pounds lighter. Most of the people who would be proud of my journey have passed away but I know they would be proud of me. One of my best friends who passed away took her final trip to Disney. I promised her someday I would see it to. This is my chance to possibly fulfill that promise and again celebrate success and show the people who are now doubting I can run a half marathon that I can do it. I celebrate success by believing nothing is impossible for me to accomplish now as I’ve already pulled off feats greater than anyone ever thought I could.

Now that our winner is picked we will follow her journey through a 20-week training program that is scheduled to being in the end of August. I personally invite you to follow Dawn’s journey and watch as she works her way towards that happier, healthier life that my father wished for me as we take on a goal to cross our first half marathon finish line together at Disneyland in January of 2014.


Dawn is a little nervous. Who wouldn’t be after taking on a big goal like this? I was nervous too! In fact, I had to run a personal half marathon on my own first to prove to myself that I could do it before I was even willing to consider taking someone else on the journey with me.

But we have over six months and as I have promised Dawn, if she provides the determination, I will provide the motivation. After-all, that’s my job.

So now the really big question …

Dawn Bell you just won the How do YOU Celebrate Success contest! What are you going to do now?”

– Sorry folks, I just couldn’t help myself.



The “How Do YOU Celebrate Success” contest is sponsored by:

Kay's LogoKay’s Naturals
Like Kay’s Naturals on Facebook ]

Celebrate Vitamins
Like Celebrate Vitamins on Facebook ]

PSA logo red from vector file
Pace Setter Athletic
Like Pace Setter Athletic on Facebook ]

Please support our sponsors!