Has it really been a year???? Thank you does not really cover it for me!

Today is a really big day in my life.  One year ago today, I was hosting “Fit Living” radio, just starting the Bariatric Breakthrough Challenge conference series, teaching different support groups on the Gulf Coast with Ben, just opening my office to work with local clients,   preparing to head to ASMBS, working on my personal trainer certification as well as other fitness certifications, and also, in the middle of all of this, working a full-time job that took up about 60 hours per week and also had me on-call via phone 24/7.  (I had 4 days a month of not being on-call with the phones at night)

My job paid pretty well and I didn’t hate it at all.  In fact, I had this amazing group of employees and clients that I still miss and still keep in touch with.  There was one little issue though.  My heart was no longer in it at all.  I knew my destiny in life was not to run a ship supply company forever.  I wanted more than something that paid the bills. I wanted something I could be passionate about.

I wanted The Bariatric Guru LLC to be more than a side hobby.  It was rough running to the office after leaving the office that paid the bills to meet with clients each evening.  It was my passion to work with bariatric patients and runners and people who wanted to get healthy and live life to its fullest.  I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives.  I loved speaking to groups and talking about the TOOL of weight loss surgery and how it helped me beat my obesity.   I loved speaking about my new passion for fitness and running and found myself really contemplating making a career change.

On June 8, 2011, I worked my last day at Wrist Ship Supply and took the biggest risk of my entire life and went to work for my own company full-time.  It was one of the hardest decisions I had ever made in my life as well as one of the scariest.  Looking back now, one year later, I also realize it was one of the best. (marrying Ben was by far the best)

While Ben and I did not make the decision quickly or without a lot of planning, it was scary to make the leap into doing what I love.  The past year has not been easy by any means, but then again think of everything in your life that was truly worth having and think back as to whether it came to you easily.  Many of the best things are definitely not easy.

There have been crazy situations like sponsors bouncing checks, not enough funding for the programs, technical difficulties at conferences, 20 hour drives because flying is just not in the budget, sleepless nights working on presentations and plans, missed sporting events with my kids, and trips to the ER in Vegas.

There have been many lessons learned and not all have been good lessons.  BUT regardless of all of that, there have been the incredible friendships I have made with industry peers.  Some of my dearest friends are people I have only known and worked with for a year.  That is pretty amazing to me.  Then there is this community of weight loss surgery patients that I adore.  It has all of the same crazy traits of any family- fun , loving, supportive, loyal, tight-knit, and of course we cannot leave out dysfunctional.  EVERY family has a little bit of dysfunction in it so it wouldn’t be a family if this community did not have it also!

I am so grateful and humbled and blessed to have met so many unique and special people from all over the country and even the world at the events I have been a speaker for during the last 12 months.  It truly makes my day to get an email saying how something on my radio show helped someone or how my talk at a conference inspired them or how one of my seminars really changed their life.  THAT is what it is all about!  I work with and am surrounded by this wonderful group of talented people who like me, want to use their gifts to help other people and that is what life is all about.  Leaving a positive mark is really important to me. That is a big reason why I am on the board of the Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America.  I love being able to pay it forward that way.

I have to give a really big shout-out to Bariatric Advantage.  Back about a year and a half ago when I approached them about my radio show and before anybody even knew who I was, they agreed to advertise with me and took a chance on this very unknown girl.  Ever since that time, there has not been a single program we have initiated that they are not a part of in some way.  Currently they sponsor the radio show, conference series, the big Disney fundraiser we are doing, and our new Bariatric Champion Online training program. They give back so much to the community besides just excellent products at a great price.  I feel very honored to be involved with them.

I could never ever have made the leap of faith to follow my dreams without my husband Ben.  You guys know him as “The Guru Chef” and the fun guy who always gets the highest votes in the conference surveys for fave session, but he really is my rock and my hero and has always supported my dreams that some may say were crazy.  He gave me the strength to write and publish my first book and to start this company and to do all of the things I do now and love.  I cannot imagine doing ANY of this without his support.

Now that the first year is under our belts, we have some really awesome projects going on and big plans for the future that we are excited about.  Being able to work as a personal trainer with clients from all over the country is a dream come true.  I love seeing the progress each person makes and also helping them through the days where they just feel icky and are not motivated.  I love that I can log on to each persons’ personal training page and see how they were feeling and adjust their plan with one click.  This is part of my job that I adore.  I love seeing people get to the point where they are feeling fantastic!

We also just formed a non-profit corporation called the Fit and Flourishing Foundation that will be dedicated to programs and campaigns to combat the disease of obesity.  By the fall we hope to be in local schools helping give kids the tools they need to grow up fit and healthy and not go through what I went through as an obese teen and adult.

I cannot tell you how passionate I am about being as healthy as we can all be and truly being happy and enjoying life and enjoying being out in public and not letting the disease of obesity keep us from the things and people we love.  That is the gift that my weight loss surgery gave to me.  It is not about seeing how skinny we can be or what dress size we can fit into.  It is about living a full and healthy life that frees us to follow our dreams, old ones (writing a book) and new ones (becoming a personal trainer).

I am also grateful to every person who has listened to my show on the radio or online, and every person who has attended a Bariatric Breakthrough Challenge, and every person who has come to one of my talks, and every person who is running with us in Disney and every person who is signed up for our online programs.  I am also grateful to every support group who has asked us to speak for you and every sponsor and advertiser who has supported the programs.  It means a lot to me and I do not take the time and money and faith that all of you place in us lightly.

If the next 12 months are even half as exciting and fun and scary as the last, we are in for a fantastic ride for sure!  It is a ride I hope to never get off of and one I enjoy more and more every day!!!!

XXOO

Erin

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About Erin Akey

I am a formerly morbidly obese wife, mother, Christian, author, speaker, water fitness instructor, nutritionist, anti-obesity advocate, and Emerald Ambassador with Plexus Worldwide. I am passionate about helping people fight the disease of obesity and also preventing and addressing obesity in children. I believe we have so many amazing tools available to treat this disease and we all need to take advantage of the ones we feel are right for us. I am also passionate about women taking the time to care for their needs. We live in a world where so many of us spend all of our time taking care of others that we neglect ourselves. I am all about making God the center of everything and letting His will take control of our lives and watching the beautiful blessings come from that release of power! Live, Laugh, and LOVE every day! Be grateful and be humble and watch the world around you change!
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