Journey to Wellness
Story By Andrea Grimaldi
“I woke up one morning and thought to myself, ‘I’m going to die. I’m not going to make it another year.’” Ferndale resident Shanna Stamper realized one morning her weight was killing her, and something needed to radically change if she wanted to live a long life.
A FULL-TIME NANNY FOR MULTIPLE FAMILIES, Stamper knew that becoming healthy would be the only way she could keep working with children, a lifelong dream. Motivated by the desire to stop taking blood pressure medications, and end the aches and other daily challenges caused by obesity, Stamper began a healthy diet and exercise regime. Two years later and two hundred pounds lighter, Stamper could not be more grateful for the progress she has made,and the community standing behind her as she forges ahead.
She started with a membership at the Royal Oak YMCA. “The first day I was out of breath before reaching the front desk,” she recounted. She began with slow progress on the treadmill and stationary bicycle, working her way up to complete a mile, then another, then another.
Stamper began seeing changes in her body and her energy levels. She added swimming to her routine, an exercise that made her feel light in the water and protected her bones and joints as she shed the weight. Soon, she didn’t need the blood pressure medications, and her ailments began to improve.
Stamper joined TV Fitness, on Woodward Avenue with Ryan Carruthers, and began the process of toning her body. She joined countless online communities centered around health and happiness. Sharing her journey online and reading about other people going through the same experiences and frustrations helped her realize a healthy life is completely attainable.
She was friended by strangers who saw her progress and were inspired by her journey. With each recipe exchanged and every supportive message sent and received, Stamper stayed true to her health and path.
Within two years of consistent dedication to her health and fitness, she lost over 200 pounds without surgery or medication. “People are so hard on each other and themselves. You can be your biggest discouragement.” This past spring, Stamper ran her first Triathlon. She spent months preparing and training with the goal to simply complete the race, only competing against herself. Stamper surpassed that goal by placing fourth place in the women’s division and earning a medal, one of her proudest feats.
Stamper did not place goals on her journey – “it wasn’t about the number on the scale or how clothes fit, although those are obvious benefits too,” Shanna explains. “I feel like I’m back in control of my body.” After shedding so many pounds, Stamper began plateauing, losing less weight each week despite working as hard as ever. Rather than getting discouraged by the numbers slowing, she focused on the changes she felt daily.
“Life still isn’t perfect,” Stamper explained. “I still have days where I crave pop or have pizza for dinner.” But the main drive is seeing how far she has come. Coming from a place where she could drink ten sodas in a day and now having overcome those cravings is the inspiration to keep going. “It isn’t an overnight process, and I will have to stay committed for the rest of my life. But I’m committed.”
Stamper has incredible gratitude to the friends and support system that has helped her along the way. Support pours in from Facebook health groups, coworkers, church friends, and especially her partner and best friends. The people closest to her texted support daily, and reminded her of her progress when she couldn’t see it. Without the support and kindness, she says she could have never stuck with it.
Stamper also enjoys supporting others through their journeys, and loves exchanging exercises and recipes with others. It is a long and difficult journey to undertake, and reaching out to local groups and friends is a great way to keep on track.