When we launched the second “How do you Celebrate Success Contest” there were several people who wrote in entries. 5 Judges selected our winner, Amy Smith, based on the essay that she submitted. Amy is currently in the middle of training for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon which we will do together in November. This time around, I promised that I would share the essays of the other entrants. Each one of them touched my heart in a special way and because of that I want to share their stories with you. I truly wish that I could have more than one winner each time we do this contest and I just want you all to know that every one of them is a winner in my book just for having the courage to enter and to share their remarkable stories. So this week in honor of #TransformationTuesday in the fitness world, I want you to meet someone who’s transformation I have had the honor of witnessing first hand.

Let me introduce you to….

Kevin4“How do you Celebrate Success” Contest Entrant
Kevin Levin, Plano, TX

It’s quite interesting how the way we do things and our perspectives on things can change so much as we journey through life.  From the simple things like the way we view walking up a flight of stairs to how we celebrate our successes in life.  A lot depends upon how we perceive them.

Fifteen months ago, I had weight loss surgery and that decision has changed my life in almost every facet.  I was a broken man, both physically and emotionally.  I was the poster child for poor health plagued with hypertension, type II diabetes, sleep apnea and a laundry list of other health issues stemming from the diabetes.  I was so physically unfit that I would carefully plan my trips up the stairs to my second floor apartment so that I’d only have to make that trip once a day.  If the good parking spots were taken at the grocery store, I’d just bypass buying healthy options and drive thru a fast food place.  All that has changed since weight loss surgery.  My health has improved to the point where my doctor recently told me that my blood labs were equivalent to that of a “normal” man.  I’d beaten diabetes, hypertension and had improved my fitness a thousand times over.  I had gone from using a walker to get around, to regularly walking 10 miles with time being my only excuse to not go further.

Kevin2So many things along this journey have been celebrations of my success.  So many goals I’d set for myself and had been successful at realizing nearly each and every one of them.  In the past, celebrating success meant celebrating with food.  “Where should we go out to eat to celebrate?” “Let’s bake a cake and celebrate” and so many other things that kept the focus on food.  After all, food was the friend that accompanied me through every one of my prior achievements in life.  While food is still a part of life and a part of societal celebrations, in my world, it’s not the way I celebrate.  I certainly won’t take away from others who do use going out to eat as a way to celebrate a special occasion, but my celebrations come elsewhere.

Life is a journey, an expedition.  It’s a series of steps along a path that we are on.  As we move forward in life, we are faced with a choice in every step we take.  Do we turn left or right?  Do we move forward or go back? Or do we stay right where we are?  In most cases, I choose to look ahead with wide eyes.  I take in my surroundings and envision my goals in front of me.  I don’t look too far down the path but instead, focus on and enjoy each step as I take it.  How can you truly appreciate where you’ve come from once you get there, if you haven’t taken in the sights and enjoyed the path you travel?

Success requires the setting of goals and expectations.  One can’t achieve or fail at something if there isn’t a goal or expectation to work towards.  Applying the principle of enjoying every step, I’ve created a habit of keeping most of my goals small, and right within my vision.  Sure, there are long-range goals and a larger plan as to where my path will take me, but I’ve taught myself not to look too far down that path or I’ll only be setting myself up for disappointment and discouragement along the way.  I guess I’m more of a “right now” kind of guy.

Rather, having short attainable goals allows me to achieve more, feel more accomplished and have a better sense of me.  With each obstacle I knock out of my way, it allows me to refocus and recharge and move on to the next one.  It keeps me moving along my path and with attaining each goal, I am able to celebrate each achievement with increased motivation to keep moving and conquer even greater goals.  They don’t all have to be great, but each one is only possible by achieving the ones before it and opens the opportunity to reach the ones ahead of me.

Kevin3My celebration of my success is that motivation, that drive that keeps me focused on making a better me.  That’s a journey that’s never truly complete, so it’s one that excites me, knowing it will always be there.  It’s like a snowball gaining momentum as it barrels down the mountain.  Each step on my journey just gains excitement, getting better and better.

It’s infectious.  The more I attain and am able to celebrate the more opportunities exist for me to attain more.  A year ago at this time, I needed a walker to get around.  I remember this time last year, walking around an indoor track at my gym three times was a lot for me.  I remember stepping on to an elliptical machine and not being able to go beyond two minutes before I was spent or my knees were sore.  I remember working towards a goal of my first 5k event and completed it in June.

Today, I can walk miles at a time, I can move up and down stairs freely, and think nothing of spending an hour on the elliptical where I am able to move at a nearly 12 minute mile pace.  Each time I go a little farther, or a little faster is a step in the right direction, another small goal achieved and a terrific reason to celebrate.  How do I do that?  By refocusing and recharging so that I can achieve the next one.  Running a half marathon at Walt Disney World is one of those long-term goals that is out there for me, but with that, there are well-defined stepping-stones and achievements for me to conquer along the way to get there, reasons to celebrate my success.

Thank you  Ameriwell BariatricsCelebrate VitaminsKay’s NaturalsWellese and BariMelts for being the sponsors of a contest that helps people celebrate their weight loss success and share these amazing stories with us.

Thank you for your entry Kevin, thank you for sharing your story and I hope that you will continue to enter these contests as I continue to be able to have them. I’m proud to be one of your friends and to have been a part of your journey with you this last year. It’s been amazing to see the growth you have made between entering the first contest and entering this one. I really hope that will be together at Disneyland for the Tinkerbell in 2015 – I’m looking forward to running beside you soon my friend. You know we’re about to start a 20Week2WineDine Training program in July and we’d love to have you along on the adventure. I’ll cheer you on from here. I’ll always be one of your biggest cheerleaders. <3 Pandora


Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and Motivational Speaker studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer.

Check out the Second “How do YOU Celebrate Success” Contest

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