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This story might have ended differently

If not for SHAPE ReClaimed, this story might have ended differently. – Sue Bittfield

In my kindergarten picture, I was skin and bones. In my first grade picture, I was a fat butterball and battled with excess weight for the next 51 years. I worked with 21 doctors, dietitians and weight loss “experts”, and I have been on virtually every weight loss program. Initially, I had success, but each time would hit a plateau. Professionals accused me of eating more than I should or eating unapproved foods which was not true.

Professionals’ inability to help me break through the plateaus eventually led to my giving up. I resumed old habits and ultimately ate my way to 425 pounds. I had been blessed with relatively good health until 2013 when my doctor said, “If you don’t do something, you are headed for trouble.” Since every diet had failed me, I swore I would never “diet” again but would exercise off the excess weight.

Exercising 3 to 4 hours a day in the pool. Working with a personal trainer and seeing a dietitian, I managed to release only 86 pounds in 5.5 years. I desperately needed both knees replaced, but no surgeon would touch me at 339 pounds. One day, I sat at the edge of the pool completely defeated after 47 years of exercising and dieting. Stick a fork in me because I was done.

Even though I said I would NEVER have gastric bypass surgery, I thought it was my last hope. I never considered it before because:

  1. Surgery is risky.
  2. I would have to live on limited food, and I like to eat.
  3. I would have to take supplements for the rest of my life.
  4. Everyone I know who has had surgery has regained most of the weight—if not more.
  5. Most importantly, if I did not change how I ate or fixed what was broken in my body, bypass would fail.

One day at the pool, I saw a fellow lap swimmer whom I hadn’t seen the previous 10 weeks. I was stunned by the change in her body. She explained that she had done the SHAPE Program. Since I had sworn off diets, I contacted the hospital to investigate bypass. My health insurance refused to cover the surgery. Even though the last resort was another “diet”, I could not deny the drastic change in my friend’s body in just 10 weeks.

I remember during my initial consultation with my SHAPE practitioner bemoaning, “I’m going to be on Phase I: FasTrac Cleanse forever.” She smiled and said, “Not forever, but for a long time.”

About 2.5 months after starting the SHAPE Program, I had released an additional 17 pounds, so I was hopeful the orthopedic surgeon would replace my knees. However, he said, “Go home, lose another 130 pounds, and come back and see me.” It took me six years to lose 104 pounds total. How on earth was I ever going to lose another 130? I resigned myself to spending the rest of my life in a wheelchair. A couple of days later, I shared the surgeon’s response with my SHAPE practitioner who confidently said, “We’ll get it done.”

I drove 530 miles to a SHAPE Warrior conference outside Chicago. I had a short one-on-one with SHAPE’s founder, Dr. Todd Frisch, before it began. When he asked how much weight I had lost in my four months, I told him, “28 pounds.” He replied, “That’s great!” I kinda wanted to punch him because I saw many other warriors losing so much more. My journey was scale-driven, and I was not losing weight fast enough.

I sat in a room with 67 other SHAPE Warriors and heard incredible stories of healing from type 2 diabetes, autoimmune diseases, Tourette’s syndrome, unhealthy cholesterol, and more. All of these were healed through food and supplements. At the end of the day, I understood SHAPE ReClaimed is not a weight loss program. It is a health restoration program.

Dr. Todd mentioned a couple of tests women should consider, and I discussed them with my practitioner. We did the micronutrient test and the stool test and discovered my body was a train wreck. It simply could not process food properly, and my pancreas and liver were really sick. Later, Dr. Todd’s wife, Linda Frisch said, “Sue, you were literally dying from malnutrition,” despite eating so healthy for the previous three years.

Just 11 months after starting the SHAPE Program, my surgeon scheduled my first knee replacement. I was on bedrest for seven weeks prior because he did not think my knees could make it. When I went in for my pre-op physical, Jan, the nurse, wrote my weight on a Post-it note. We went in the room, she took my vitals and entered numbers into the computer. She stopped, looked at the note, looked at the computer, looked at the note again and said, “Well, this can’t be right.” I asked what was wrong.

Jan said, “When you were in here a year ago, it says you were 339 pounds. Today, you are 200. That can’t be right.” Yes, it was right. My primary physician admitted then he did not know how to help people like me. They take one or two nutrition classes in med school, and that’s all they know.

The day I had my first knee replaced, I had lost that 130 pounds. Two months later, I had my second replaced. Sixty days later, I was walking 18 holes of golf a day. And I haven’t stopped moving. I have been to Kauai, Hawaii, Arizona (twice), Alaska and South America. I have climbed mountains and swum in oceans.

In March 2020, I was on a cruise ship in South America for two weeks. Despite the outbreak of COVID-19, three physicians felt I could travel safely. We had a large contingency of Asians and Europeans on board, and one by one, many people on the ship and then the flight home were sick. My friends also fell ill, but I did not. I hadn’t yet made the connection that SHAPE ReClaimed had strengthened my immune system.

Recently, I had a major health scare. I had an ultrasound that showed a mass on my pancreas. My primary physician said, “Sue, you did everything to prevent this. You lost the weight, you eat healthy, and you exercise. You couldn’t have done more,” and he ordered a CT scan. My SHAPE practitioner was convinced the scan would be clean because of my lifestyle, and it was. No masses anywhere in my abdominal area. If not for SHAPE ReClaimed, this story might have ended differently.

Many former students, parents, colleagues, and fellow gym friends are now doing the SHAPE Program because they have witnessed my transformation. I am off all prescription medications, I no longer require a CPAP machine, and my eye pressure has decreased in both eyes.

I thank God every day for Dr. Todd and Linda Frisch, my SHAPE practitioner and my SHAPE Warrior family.