Success Stories - Susan

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You can read Susan's whole story on her wonderful web page at

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Susan Schnell  TOPS#ND 163, Grand Forks

I joined TOPS on June 18, 1997 and reached my KIW status on August 4, 1999.

  This time around I knew I was the only one that could change my situation. I fell and broke my arm in 3 locations near the shoulder and it couldn't be casted. It was then, I felt I'd hit rock bottom and knew I had to change. When I found my TOPS chapter, I was nervous, but I had to confront the scale each and every week to stay on track. My nervousness turned to embarrassment when I stepped on the scale and the weights were all the way to right at 350 lbs. And I was more than that. Two TOPS officers escorted me to the local clinic to be weighed. The only scale that could weigh me, was an in the floor model meant for wheelchair bound people. It showed that I weighed 363 lbs. I had to weigh at the clinic each week until I was under 350 lbs. I told myself that I would never again put myself through that kind of humiliation. I felt awful that I had gotten so large. When the TOPS pledge was cited, "even though I overeat in private, my excess poundage is there for all the world to see, how foolish I have been." I was shocked; that was me, always hiding what I had eaten.

I knew this would be a long process to lose the weight, and that I would only succeed if I denied myself nothing. I would have treats or whatever I wanted, as long as it was in moderation and not too often. Water drinking was never a problem for me. Exercise was my downfall. I thought I will lose the weight first, then exercise. I new that was not the right way and didn't stick t that plan. I knew exercise is a key in losing weight. It would increase my metabolism to lose better and tone me up as I lost. I began to walk on a treadmill in the 6th week. I didn't walk fast but walked for 30 minutes. Moderation, water and exercise are the keys to losing weight. Each week I'd have a loss and try even harder for the next week. Something clicked for me this time around and I was enjoying my life again.

After I had lost 50 lbs. I knew I wanted even more. I had always loved swimming, but had no suit to fit me. The instructor allowed me to wear a T-shirt and shorts. Our small town offered aqua exercise classes 4 days a week for one hour. I decided it didn't matter if people saw me, how awful I looked, because I was going there for a reason. I planned not to tell them the reason, hoping they would soon notice my reasons. When I had lost another 50 lbs., people started to notice.

Not having much self-esteem, I had trouble accepting a compliment. I would quickly say, "oh, I have so much more to lose," rather than just saying "Thank You". I was a very private person about my weight and at that first SRD, I made sure that my prior weight or current weight would not be announced, or I would not attend. I had lost 101.5 lbs. for my First Place Division 1 award at SRD for 1997. I didn't think I would ever announce my previous weight or how much I had lost to anyone. It wasn't until I reached my goal weight, that I felt comfortable with telling people.

Health was the main concern when I decided to lose weight. I was almost 40 and the risks increase if you are obese, of getting diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, or most anything. I wanted to change before I had any problems and would be forced to make changes, or have to live with health problems forever. I did, at one point, think that I would be on the 5 pm news someday; that a fat lady had to be cut out of her house to be taken to the hospital. Why do they televise such heartbreaking stories?

I kept a journal of things I needed to do or wanted to do. I wrote down a list of reasons why I wanted to lose the weight. I also wrote down all the goals I wanted to achieve. Big ones and small ones, and I would add to the list as I thought of them. When I reached one, I'd give myself a pat on the back and look towards reaching the next one. The first goal was to be under 350 lbs. and weigh in at TOPS. My two favorite ones were weighing less than my husband for the first time ever, and to be at goal in time for my son's High School graduation which just took place in May this year. I made it and was so proud he didn't have to be ashamed to be seen with such a fat Mom. I was always the fattest person wherever I went.

A person wanting to lose weight needs to do it for the reason of becoming healthy for life; as a lifestyle change, not just a diet to lose the weight and look good. Feeling better and looking great are a fringe benefit of becoming healthy. Dieting takes the weight off, but if a person resumes their old lifestyle habits once the weight is off, it will soon re-appear. As many of you have read or heard people say before, "if I can lose weight, anyone can". I used to think it was a joke, but now, here I am, telling you just that. Being thin is everything and more, than I ever thought it could be.

Here are some sayings that I have collected, that have helped me along the way:

Yagattawanna - You have to WANT to do it more than anything in the whole world.

If it is to be, it is up to me - Ten most powerful two-letter words.

If you think you can or can't, you are right.

Quitters never Win, and Winners never Quit.

The hardest part to get is going.

TOPS, I owe my life to you, and THANK YOU for all you offer. It has been a blessing that I found my chapter. My only regret is, that I wish I hadn't wasted so many years being obese. One thing I want my message to convey is, that it is possible to lose weight sensibly, without taking pills or having stomach bypass surgery, even when  you are 200+ pounds overweight. I am going to San Antonio, TX next month, for IRD, and will proudly represent the Great State of North Dakota. I have already practiced my Ya'll.

TopsStartingPicSue.jpg (59965 bytes)     211 lbs lost Sue.jpg (65689 bytes)

My last thoughts are to say that YOU are worth it.
Take it one day at a time and do it for YOU.
- Susan -


IRD Queen 2000 (TOPS - International) -

North Dakota SRD Queen 2000 (TOPS - State) -

Susans Email

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