Sara Bown Coaching | #BeBRAVEchallenge |I was raised around “I can’t” and I believed it with every fiber of my being |Tom’s story
Sara Bown Coaching | #BeBRAVEchallenge |I was raised around “I can’t” and I believed it with every fiber of my being |Tom’s story

Sara Bown Coaching | #BeBRAVEchallenge |I was raised around “I can’t” and I believed it with every fiber of my being |Tom’s story

Sara Bown Coaching | #BeBRAVEchallenge |I was raised around “I can’t” and I believed it with every fiber of my being |Tom’s story


My first memories of bad eating habits started when I was four and I was put on steroids for an infection. I would eat my regular meal and go back for seconds, thirds and sometimes fourths. If I was told to stop eating, I’d cry that I was desperately hungry.

I had very little (if any) self esteem. I gained weight from that point steadily throughout my childhood. I had a negative body image. I was always the biggest kid in school. I was teased and bullied. Throughout my childhood, teens and early adulthood, I never even tried to lose weight. I felt I was beyond help.

I never had a girlfriend in my high school years. When I was 19, I met a young woman named April online through Yahoo Personals. She was the first to ever give me the time of day. She and I dated and eventually married when I was 22 years old. Within 9 months of marriage, she was pregnant.

In her second trimester, she started experiencing a great deal of pain. I took her to the doctor many times. They said her body was just changing, that it was her first pregnancy and she was ok. I believed the doctors, as they’d seen far more pregnancies.

It turned out she wasn’t ok. She had a basketball sized tumor which enveloped her right ovary. The doctors operated and tried to keep my son in the womb. Unfortunately, his heart rate crashed and he was born through an emergency c-section in an ICU room.

My son spent his first 51 days in NICU. In the mean time, my wife started chemo therapy for 6 months. She and I differed a great deal in parenting in his formative years. This caused a great deal of animosity between us.

This rift continued and got worse. As anyone else knows who deals with extended illness, everything and everyone else suffers too. My wife went through various treatments and was later diagnosed with leukemia which prompted a bone marrow transplant. She also had graft versus host disease which is the equivalent of rejection to the bone marrow transplant. She wound up on dialysis due to the damage on her kidneys from the various treatments. She had difficulty walking and getting around.

Throughout this time, I took care of and raised my son like any other kid. April saw him every day, as she stayed next door with her mother.

However, my unhealthy relationship with food was getting worse. I was medicating myself from this situation with food. I was also putting everyone and everything else in before my health.

I had cellulitis twice and a sebaceous cyst on my leg removed. When I went to the doctor, they couldn’t weigh me. That was really embarrassing. I couldn’t go up and down the stairs to do laundry and other house work without being short of breath. Everything I did was a struggle, even worse is that I didn’t realize it was a struggle. I thought this was “normal”. I was a big guy after all.

On September 4, 2012, I realized with my wife’s declining health and the things I’d been seeing with my own health, I needed to do something.

I started logging calories on the MyFitnessPal app. I knew I needed to weigh myself, so I bought a scale that went up to 400 lbs. I stepped on it and the number below me shocked me. 383.4. I’ll never forget it. I vowed I’d never weigh that again. I was also in my second year of being my son’s Cub Scout Den Leader. Here I was telling these boys to do their best and all they had to do was look at me to see I wasn’t living that way. I felt like I was failing my son and my Scouts.

I started substituting a Subway foot long sub for a salad or having grilled chicken instead of a huge portion of pasta. I started making better decisions. I probably eat more now than then, but my food now has nutrients instead of empty calories. I monitored my calories and exercised twice per day especially in the summer when I could walk outside without snow and freezing temps.

In August of 2013, my wife passed away. Her 10 year battle was over. I was at her bed side when she passed. I then did the hardest thing in my entire life – I had to tell my son. I struggled more than ever at this time, with consoling my son, dealing with insurance and other issues. Two weeks later, my car was totaled in an accident. Brandon and I were not hurt, but it didn’t help matters. Even my daily walks changed. My usual evening route took me past her grave and that daily reminder was too much to bear. It was getting to be fall and with the change in weather, stress and other issues, my weight loss stalled for 6 months.

Since then, I’ve gotten my act together and so far, I’ve lost just shy of 100 lbs. It’s taken a lot longer than I’d expected, but every pound is a victory. My ultimate goal weight is around 200 lbs. I’ll get there eventually, but I realize that I can’t be like those you see on tv losing 200 lbs in a year and that’s ok.

Since I started, I’ve walked over 200 miles. I hiked a portion of the Appalachian Trail. I can play and keep up with my son. I can do more than ever. I can go to movies and other events and not worry about fitting in seats. I walk, do yoga and strength training. I can do so much more with far less effort than I ever have.

I want everyone who thinks they “can’t” to realize they can. If I’ve gotten through this, you can too. I know lots of people have it worse than me. I don’t like hearing “I can’t”. I was raised around “I can’t” and I believed it with every fiber of my being. I missed out on so many things because I believed “I can’t”. I wouldn’t even try because my mind won over my body.

Go do something you thought you believe you can’t do. If you really can’t, do it to the best of your ability until you succeed. Failure breeds success. If I can do this, anyone else can too. If my story helps even one other person, it succeeded.

~ Tom Witmer


Thank you Tom for sharing in the #BeBRAVEchallenge and know that sharing this bravery will help others, I am honored to share your story with others. If you are reading this, and interested in sharing your own story, please visit the link below for more information ~ Sara
#BeBRAVEchallenge —->





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ღ Sara Bown - Virtual LIFE coach
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