By her calculations, Shawn Cote guzzled roughly 55,000 cans/bottles of soda in the 10 years prior to embarking on a journey of health and wellness.
The estimate is based on a 15-cans-a-day habit the rural Manitoba mom has long since crushed.
“It was ridiculous,” Cote tells Sun Media in a candid phone interview from her home in Moosehorn, Man. “I was extreme and I know lots of people who are the same way.”
But caffeinated beverages weren’t her only vice.
Cote also had a ravenous penchant for calorically dense foods that lacked any substantive nutritional value.
“I loved hamburgers. I ate as many as I could get my hands on. … (But) the biggest thing you could not tear from my hands was chocolate.”
Soda and bad food were her primary weapons of self-destruction.
It didn’t help that she was also a social drinker and smoker.
When she became pregnant in 2005, Cote ended up gaining 80 pounds.
After giving birth to her daughter, who’s now seven years old, Cote kept the “baby weight” and packed on more pounds.
By the time she topped out at a personal high of 266 pounds on her five-foot-six frame, her health was already an issue.
And she was only 33.
“I started getting really sick and things that at my age shouldn’t have been happening started happening — lots of women’s problems, migraines, moodiness, those kinds of things,” she recalls.
Cote also developed an acne-like skin problem on several parts of her body, including her face, which stumped doctors.
Not knowing how to deal with her worsening health plight, she sought refuge in bed. And for the better part of three months, that’s where she stayed.
“I felt like my soul was flat. There was nothing. I did not want to get out of bed — besides going to doctor’s appointments and cooking the odd meal,” she admits.
“My husband would come home and he’d take care of everything. And it got to the point where he was so frustrated because the doctors just kept giving me prescriptions for things that they believed were wrong with me and he just started researching himself.”
Her hubby soon suggested their diet needed a major overhaul.
Cote initially resisted this idea because “the light at the end of the tunnel always seemed to be the light of the refrigerator,” but she was desperate.
“I was just so mad that I had found myself in this horribly unhealthy spot and I was going to do whatever it took,” she explains.
Cote stopped drinking pop and smoking — cold turkey.
And the family abruptly switched from the “Standard American Diet” of packaged and processed foods to “the basics: nuts, seeds, beans, berries, greens and juicing,” she says.
Those big lifestyle changes eventually spawned big results and Cote started feeling better.
Along the journey, she also started exercising — dancing to her favourite music at home, going for walks and doing workout DVDs.
Within two years, Cote halved her bodyweight to 132 pounds.
These days, the raven-haired 40-year-old — who just released a self-published book about her inspirational journey, The Fat Girl Now 50% Lighter — fluctuates around 145 pounds.
Most importantly, she has regained her health. And she’s not letting go this time.
“I changed my whole way of living,” she adds. “It’s a matter of finding out where the true you is. It can be really scary. But on the other side of what you discover, it’s amazing.”
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