All of us experience tragedy and grief throughout our lives. Painful times when it’s difficult—seemingly almost impossible—to face another day. And often, that tragedy is unexpected and takes our breath and the very meaning of our lives away in an instant.
We can begin to feel like our lives are spinning out of control, and we’re left confused and fearful, barely surviving.
Christina Napoleon, a mortgage loan officer out of Punta Gorda, in South West Florida, found herself in just such a precarious, scary situation. She had lost her husband to cancer and was working hard to put the pieces back together for her and her young daughter.
After starting to feel like she was getting back into life, she got an emergency call. Her mother had had a severe stroke. Christina, with her daughter, immediately headed to Arizona to see her mom. Sadly, her mother never woke up, and they were never even able to say goodbye.
Then just two days later, Christina’s father had to be rushed to go on emergency dialysis due to renal failure. Thankfully, because they had been making plans, she was right there beside her dad during this frightening time.
“We had to make a lot of quick decisions,” shares Christina. “In the end, my dad said he wanted to come live with me in Florida. So, my daughter and I took him from the emergency room in Arizona with just his pajama bottoms—that’s all he came to Florida with—and admitted him into a hospital here.”
Her father ended up needing extended care for more than three months before he moved in with the family officially. “It was a really tough time and a big adjustment for all of us,” says Christina.
Christina went into survival mode. She was so very busy with her dad’s medical care—shuttling him to and from doctor’s appointments, to and from dialysis, and continuing to care for her healthy, energetic 10-year-old daughter. That summer, there was more bad news. Her father had numerous cancerous tumors that needed to be removed. This led to multiple surgeries, and Christina found herself very overwhelmed. She never knew what to expect, and every day, there were more complications.
“I would wake up, and there was no joy in my life,” Christina remembers. “I didn’t even want to get out of bed. I didn’t want to put clothes on. Thankfully, I was able to take leave from work to support my dad. But I stopped taking care of myself. I was able to just wear leggings and a big T-shirt—no makeup. I had stopped caring about me.”
A Dark, Dark Place
Christina was exhausted. And she knew that after the long days dealing with her dad’s medical problems, her grief, her daughter’s grief, and her dad’s grief, she should be finding ways to take care of herself. At the very least, she knew she should be getting sleep. But after such long, tough days, she would stay up after everyone else was asleep.
“I should have just crawled into bed,” she shares, “but I hadn’t eaten all day. Even though I was so, so tired, I started to use food as comfort. Even if it was 11:30 at night, I stayed up and ate. I don’t know why I did it, but I probably turned to food for my emotions.”
Even when Christina did finally lie down to sleep, she would often find her mind and body filled with fear. “I was scared. I was scared of everything in my life at that time. It was such a dark, dark place for me. I couldn’t sleep.”
Of course, Christina wasn’t alone. Her dad was dealing with the grief of losing his wife of nearly 50 years, and he was in a very dark place too. And her daughter was coping with her grief. It was a very sad household.
Spiraling Into Sickness
Christina’s health was starting to take the toll from all the stress, lack of exercise, and late-night snacking. “I went to my doctor because I was having crazy symptoms that weren’t going away,” she explains. “My ankles were so swollen that it looked like Shrek’s at one point. I don’t drink alcohol at all because I have colitis, but I felt like I was walking like a drunk. I was walking into doorways and was dizzy all the time. If I moved my head the wrong way, the room would spin. It made it hard for me to work. I couldn’t focus or concentrate. And during all this, I was putting on weight too.”
Frustrated and scared, Christina found her way to three different doctors. “They thought I might have a virus, they checked me for vertigo, and I was in the hospital twice. They did a brain MRI, they did CAT scans, echocardiograms, EKGs, and no one had any answers. My medical bills were outrageous because I have a high deductible and costly premiums. I hit my $6,000 deductible in February because they were doing all these tests trying to figure out why I was having all of these symptoms,” she remembers.
When Christina went to her doctor in August, she was given an ultimatum. She was starting to develop symptoms of hypertension, which was what took her mom. Christina explains, “My doctor said she was going to have to put me on high blood pressure medication for hypertension as well as on steroids because I kept having very painful colitis attacks that were landing me in the emergency room. I have been dealing with colitis for decades, but the stress of losing my husband and then losing my mom so suddenly really brought on colitis attacks.”
Health Becomes Priority #1
Christina went home and cried so hard after leaving the doctor’s office. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, Christina. What are you doing?’” she shares emotionally. “You’re only 46 years old. You’ve got to get your life together. You have a daughter. You’re the only one taking care of your father and daughter.”
Christina explains, “I didn’t want to go on steroids because I was already putting on all of this weight. I also did not want to start high blood pressure medication. It scared me to even think about that because I didn’t want to have anything to do with what happened to my mom. In my head, I was like, ‘I can fix it. I will take care of it. I will persevere. I’m not going to end up like my mom.’ I knew if I didn’t take care of this now, my daughter would have to face growing up with no parents, and she was only 10.”
Christina also wasn’t happy with her body. In fact, she was ashamed, especially when she got on the scale and realized she was over 200 pounds. “I was really, really disgusted with myself,” she shares. “I was deeply ashamed and saddened for my daughter. My weight gain and all my medical conditions were holding her back. I didn’t want to go anywhere—not Bush Gardens, not the beach. And she couldn’t go anywhere because I didn’t want to go anywhere. So, I was ruining her quality time with me because of all of these issues I was having in my life by putting on weight and getting to such a bad place.”
She decided she had to make serious changes. That’s when she signed up to join the BioTRUST VIP 12-Week Shape-Up Challenge and Facebook page.
A Whole New Challenge
Now was the time for a change, and Christina wasn’t going to go just halfway. When she joined the Challenge, she promised herself she was going to go all in and put herself out there. Only three weeks in, she began to post pictures and posts and found that it helped her become more accountable, and that helped her become more excited to do this. “I don’t think I would have gotten the benefit if I didn’t put myself out there and share my real story,” she says.
Even within the first week of introducing herself to the group, Christina knew this was what she needed. “The support from the group was absolutely awe-inspiring. Everyone was so encouraging and motivating. I loved that nobody was body shaming anyone or saying anything negative,” she said.
Christina set some reasonable yet reaching goals to lose 25 pounds and be able to fit into a size 12 comfortably again. She also wanted to address her anxiety and deep sadness and grief. And of course, she wanted to go back to her doctor’s office at her next checkup in November with healthy blood pressure.
“I thought if I lose weight, that’s going to help because my mom had put on weight in the last ten years of her life when she retired. She got sedentary. She just let herself go,” Christina explains. “At the hospital after her stoke, the staff told me my mom was over 200 pounds. They kept talking about that. So, it became embedded in my brain. When I saw I was over 200 pounds, it was so scary to me. I thought, maybe after I lose 25 pounds, I’ll feel better, and those symptoms will magically go away. I also wanted to get down in my clothing size. I didn’t want to go shopping at a different store because my 16s were getting too tight. I wanted to get back into my size 12s.”
Finding the Real Secret to Success
So much is made of goal setting and how important it is to success, but that’s not actually what Christina found to be most important. Sure, the 25-pound weight-loss goal was important, especially for the Monday weigh-ins, but as the Challenge was going on, she started to realize other victories were much more important than the number on the scale—especially as her weight loss stalled in week three.
“The scale wasn’t being kind to me, and I was getting so discouraged. That’s when I asked my daughter to take my pictures again, and I could see the difference in the pictures. I realized the scale was not the only way I should measure my changes. I started to focus on pictures of myself or non-scale victories like how my legs felt leaner and more toned when I was shaving and how my clothes fit. Those became much more important to me than the scale,” she explains.
What was most helpful, however, was the BioTRUST VIP community. “The community on the VIP page was key to my success,” shares Christina. “I didn’t know when I signed up that I would be getting so much for free. I didn’t know I was going to get coaches, healthy recipes, educational blogs, podcasts, and videos from Coach Tim. All that support is what helped me most.”
In addition, Christina discovered a community of people who genuinely cared about her. “They honestly helped me get through my grief,” she says. “There was such support from everyone. It wasn’t just a weight-loss challenge to me. It was a life challenge. I almost feel like I hired a life coach. By implementing all of these tools and strategies the coaches were offering, I not only changed my diet and my weight but also my daily activity. And I was starting to do more things with my daughter because they also give random acts of kindness challenges. It wasn’t just about weight loss. It was an overall wellness program.”
Christina found that she just pushed the goals aside and started to focus on herself. She began to practice self-care, self-love, and created happiness and overall mental and emotional well-being.
“A lot of people ask me, ‘Don’t you think you would have lost the weight even if you didn’t join the Challenge?’” Christina says. “I’ll tell you right now, the answer is no! I wouldn’t have lost the weight I did. And it’s not even about losing weight. It’s about the way I feel, the way my clothes fit me now, and how much happier I am.”
Christina also found a new love for being active. Within the first few weeks, she jumped in and tried the Workouts of the Day or “WODs” Coach Cristina posted. She tried the mini-fitness challenges. At first, they were painful because she had broken her pinkie toe. “I mentioned I was having a hard time with the challenges because my foot hurt too much,” she explains, “and somebody told me about Joint 33X™. I ordered one bottle, and let me tell you, when it ran out, I could feel the difference! I never want to be out of that product ever again!”
After that, you couldn’t hold Christina back. The fitness part became huge for her. And she’s working out all the time now. She even found some great workout buddies through the Challenge. “Several of us banded together,” she explains. “We all joined the free FitOn App and were able to become friends together. It was another accountability tool. We could see when each other was working out, and we started to work out together. I have friends now who I know are going to be lifelong, just from joining the BioTRUST Challenge.
“It wasn’t just about working out. We talked to each other about life. It was really something special. It almost felt like I was back in college, developing such deep friendships. And, we’re still messaging each other. We’re all over the place in America. For example, when I started the walking-a-mile challenge, it was so much fun because people I didn’t even know started joining from California, Hawaii, Missouri, Arkansas, Idaho, and more.”
The Right Plan for Her
Christina had, not surprisingly, tried several diets in the past. For example, her doctor encouraged her to try the Mediterranean Diet, but that diet didn’t work for her because she had to restrict so many foods or risk colitis attacks. She was also wary of a high-fat diet like keto due to her family’s history of heart disease and again because she would be unable to eat many of the foods recommended for that diet.
That led Christina to choose Josh Bezoni’s One-Day Expanded Diet, which had been posted on the BioTRUST VIP page by Coach Cristina. This is where she learned about intermittent fasting or IF. “IF is amazing with my schedule; it works perfectly for me. It helps me stay on target and focused,” she says. “I have so much more energy now. And I think the clean eating may be why my colitis is in remission now. It’s such a good diet, and it’s really easy to follow.
“My intermittent fasting usually starts around 7:00 at night, and then I don’t eat until noon or 1:00 pm. Then I would break the fast with the
BioTRUST Chocolate Shake because I love it. It’s so delicious. Then you have a six- to eight-hour window, depending on how long you choose, with a lot of free foods to choose from.”
Christina enjoyed the FitOn App for her fitness because there were so many different levels and options. They even have short 8- to 10-minute options, which she could use on those days when she was shuttling her dad from one doctor’s appointment to the next. “I would have only 15 minutes before we had to leave,” she explains. “I could find a workout that was just 10 minutes, and I could change quickly and still get my dad to his appointment on time.”
In addition, she started to create optional challenges that she would post daily on the VIP page. “They were 30-day challenges, and I started to have people follow me and do the challenges with me. We all held each other accountable, which was awesome,” she explains. “The first one I posted was a 28-day challenge that was so hard. There were times when I asked myself, ‘why did I post this one? because now I have to do it.’ It was hard, but it really got me toned up.”
Christina’s New Life
Christina’s life is so different now. Over the 12-week Challenge, she lost 32.2 pounds and 10.75 inches off her entire body. Before, her size 16 jeans were too tight, and she’s now down to a size 10. And they’re not just comfortable, but they’re starting to feel a bit loose, especially in the waist. “I might go out and see if I can find a pair of 8s because my 10s are starting to fall down,” Christina exclaims.
She continues, “I am comfortable wearing a one-piece bathing suit on the beach, and I feel beautiful. I don’t know if I have ever loved my body the way I love my body now. I love that feeling after a great workout where I can feel that good burn and know my muscles just had a great workout. I love that I now have the right tools to keep going with my new, improved, healthier lifestyle.”
Christina’s health also drastically improved. Her final weigh-in day was also her 90-day check-up with her doctor. Instead of putting her on medications for high blood pressure and colitis flareups, her doctor gave her a clean bill of health! “She was super happy with all of my results,” says Christina, “She said I was doing all the right things and lost weight the healthy way and to keep doing what I am doing.”
Christina is also thrilled by her increased energy levels. Once she started working out, she began to immediately feel a difference. She also credits other supplements, like Ageless Core™ and MetaboGreens™, for supporting her energy levels throughout the day.
Christina says, “I started feeling a sharp mental improvement, being more alert, having fantastic mental clarity. The lifestyle was such a big mood booster too. I feel more energy now than I did in my 20s, and I am quickly approaching the big 5-0.”
Christina isn’t the only one who saw improvements. Her entire family benefited from this experience. Her dad became her toughest personal trainer, and every morning, he pushes her during her workouts. Even more importantly, he’s become more engaged in his own healing. “Before, he was resistant to physical therapy,” explains Christina. “He didn’t want to do it. He was having a lot of pain with his knees. While he was pushing me in my workouts, all of a sudden, I realized he’s not just talking to me, he’s actually doing his exercises.
“This wasn’t just a transformation for me. It was a transformation for my daughter and my father. My dad’s just doing so much better. He’s so much happier. None of this would be possible if I hadn’t joined BioTRUST. I know that sounds so crazy, but it’s true,” Christina adds.
The entire family is now more active. They go to the beach together, and their whole household has livened up with laughter and fun.
Time is Precious
Looking back on how much her life has changed over the last few months, Christina bubbles with joy, and she is so encouraging to others who find themselves in a similar dark time. Her most significant piece of advice to others is, “You can’t afford to put this off anymore.”
She explains, “My medical bills were so tremendous. I see people online saying, ‘Oh, these products are so expensive.’ Yes, the products, in the beginning, cost a little bit of money—though they offer amazing discounts—but I found during the Challenge I was saving money by taking these products. I save so much on grocery bills it’s crazy. I eat better, I don’t eat as much, I’m not snacking like I used to at night. Because of my lifestyle changes, now I don’t have to go on steroids. I don’t have to take high blood pressure medication.
“You can’t afford to wait anymore. Time is so precious. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. It’s not. I wish I had joined sooner. Your time is now, and you’re so worth it!”