Sarah Scott

Beyond My Limits

 

Sarah's Story:

 It’s hard to say how it all began.  The spiral downward and the climb back out.  At some point in my life, through a series of heartaches and heartbreaks and bad choices and unfortunate circumstances, I lost control and lost myself.  I’ve reached the point where I don’t want to blame anyone in particular for what I became, because I understand that in the end it was my life to take control of and live as I saw fit.

 At times I was bulimic; at times I just overate.  I almost never exercised.  Over the years, I lost weight and gained weight with yo-yo dieting.  My weight soared.  In 1994, my weight had reached a high of over 400 pounds.  Although I am a tall woman at 5’9” that is more weight than anybody can carry.

 I was unhappy and unhealthy.  I was the subject of stares and ridicule.  I couldn’t climb up a flight of stairs without becoming winded.   Although I had always loved to travel, I could not fit in a single plane seat.  I was afraid to go out alone anywhere, because I knew people would stare at me and laugh.  They whispered behind my back.   I didn’t want to buy groceries or go to a restaurant, because people would always look and I knew what they were thinking, “What is she eating?  What is she buying?  You don’t need any more food.”

 The unhappier I became, the more I used food to comfort me and my weight to protect me from other people.  Food created a wall around me, both literally and figuratively, and the wall created a barricade around my emotions.  Although I was terribly lonely, I didn’t want anyone to touch me or my emotions.

 I believe there is a sick cycle that people with all types of eating disorders face: the thing which is causing you the most pain is the thing which you cling to for comfort, because it gives you an instant sensory gratification.  You live for the instant gratification and ignore the long-term consequences.

 That was my life before.  That’s enough about the trip down.  The important part of my story is about the climb out and where it has led me and it led me to conquer Kilimanjaro. Shortly after climbing Kilimanjaro, in September 2000, I appeared as a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show for a second time, discussing my trek and how the trip helped me to put the past behind me.

Climbing Kilimanjaro, and my weight loss in general, taught me to live each day and to not procrastinate when it comes to my health and happiness. Life is short, and it is not a dress rehearsal.

With these thoughts in mind, in 2001 I made a decision to follow a twenty-year dream to move to the Rocky Mountain West. I quit a good job and career, sold the dream house I’d designed and built, and moved to a small town in Western Wyoming. I live on a hillside surrounded by mountains, along a picturesque valley. My property is covered with pine trees and Aspens. The sky is big and blue. On clear evenings, the stars are countless and remind me of how high I can aim. If I keep shooting for the stars, at least I’ll end up somewhere in the heavens!

Moose, mule deer, elk, and other critters are frequent visitors to my property. It is a raw, challenging area of the country to live in, but it makes me feel more alive than any other place I’ve lived. I am able to pursue some of my hobbies, such as hiking, photography, and art.

I started from scratch in a new field with a new career, and I enjoy the challenges it presents as well as the accomplishments and promotions I have received.

I had some minor weight fluctuations but was fortunate to find a new weight loss program which has helped me take off some additional weight and stabilize my weight maintenance (see page on Weight Loss for additional details). I am now at my lowest weight in over 20 years. I am healthy and happy, and look better than I have ever looked in my life. A former ugly duckling . . . now a self-made swan.

I've been working in the banking industry since 2001. I moved to California with high hopes, when recruited by a Central California bank, in 2006. I purchased a lovely home on 7 acres in Mariposa, the gateway to Yosemite. A few months after that major purchase, I found out that my bank was in trouble from loans made (which I knew nothing about and had was no part of - I am not in the lending site of banking). 

I knew the Bank was in trouble before it failed. They had started laying off non-critical employees; the stock was in the toilet; customers were taking their deposits and moving them to other banks. In the midst of this turmoil - about three months before the Bank was closed, I received a call from a recruiter asking if I wanted to interview for a similar position as I held, at a bank 200 miles away, on the Central California Coast. Suspecting that the Bank may not survive, I made the 4-hour journey and interviewed for the position, which I was offered on the spot.

I was faced with a very difficult decision. My son was in high school in Mariposa, and I had just purchased an expensive home that would be difficult to sell in that economy. There were no other banks within commuting distance that would afford me the ability to live at home and continue to work in my field - the nearest banks that might have a position comparable to mine, if they were even hiring, were 80 or more miles away. The job on the Coast involved a pay cut, but at least I could continue working and supporting my family. Do I take the new job, or go down with the ship, as my old Bank was failing?

I ended up taking the new job on the Coast, and - while I was able to keep my life going and my family housed - I would have to say that started several of the most difficult years of my life. Every Monday morning I would get in my car at 5:00 am and start the 200-mile journey to work. I'd drive straight to the bank, and stay on the coast, working until Thursday or Friday afternoon, then make the journey back home.

During the week I stayed in a tiny "studio" apartment that I rented (I mean tiny - a 9' by 11' room which housed a twin mattress on wooden drawers, a toilet, sink, and tiny shower, and an under counter refrigerator. I brought in a microwave for cooking. I had a shelf on the wall for a t.v., and I kept a laptop there which allowed me to get on line after work.). There was no other furniture in the room. Just the bed. This was the least expensive place I could rent, and I was trying to keep my cost of living down there, as I was also paying for my home back in Mariposa, and I'd just taken a pay cut. I lived in the room, during the week, when I wasn't at work, for about 2 years.

 The nicest thing about these two years is that the room was one block from the Pacific Ocean in the town of Cayucos. After I got off from work, particularly in the summer months, I would walk on the beach for a few miles at night. Cont'd at Right...

 

I enjoyed my boss and the people I worked with at that bank, and I did the best job I could for them. But, I don't think they ever realized how unhappy I was.

These years took a toll on me. I didn't know how I was ever going to get my family back together, with a house I couldn't sell in Mariposa, and working in a location where I couldn't afford to buy or rent a place big enough for all of us. I missed my home, my pets, and my family. There were many nights I would lie in my little twin bed and cry. I would think, "What am I going to do? What am I going to do?" In the end, I just kept doing what I had to do to support my family. And I didn't give up. I looked for a way out, and at Christmas, 2010, that path opened up for me.

At the end of 2010, another recruiter called about a better job. This time, the bank was a little closer to Mariposa, the position was better, and the salary was greater. I interviewed for the position a few days after Christmas, and was offered the job on my drive back home. I accepted the position and started work with my current bank on January 31, 2011.

Things were looking brighter. I rented an old, two-bedroom trailer in the mountains east of town, about 15-20 miles from work. It was a bit of a ram-shackle residence - in fact, it was a dump - but it gave me more room and more of a sense of having a home. I started looking for a new house for the family, which in this area of the state was more affordable than the coastal area in San Luis Obispo County. I found a lovely home on an acre in the middle of orange groves, and I was just able to qualify for financing with a minimal down payment, while also carrying my Mariposa house mortgage.

Memorial Day weekend, 2011 - my family moved in. For the first time in 2-1/2 years, I was able to go to work in the morning, and come home to my own house, family and pets at night.

For another year and a half I struggled financially with owning two homes, and eventually, in December 2012, we sold the home in Mariposa. It was a bittersweet occasion. I loved the house and the property, and living in the Mountains. I also essentially lost my life savings - every bit of equity I had, and took a tremendous financial hit selling the house. But - I was finally able to stop bleeding financially, and my family was together again. I could sleep in my own bed at night, without worrying about paying two mortgages.

Then I got a great senior management position at a good, stable bank - I would go so far as to say it's the best job I've ever had. I've had some successes through work which this year enabled me to attend a conference at a beautiful resort in Kauai as a finalist for an award for the bank, and to be interviewed for an article in American Banker Magazine.

I get to go home every night. My pack of small dogs (which includes the more recent additions of some tiny Chihuahuas) greets me enthusiastically every night, letting me know I'm the light of their lives, and they are of mine. If I wake in the middle of the night, while the rest of the two-legged residents of the house are asleep, my four-legged babies are my therapy, lying beside me, ready to be petted and hugged.

I have a beautiful home in the orange groves and own 25 +orange and other citrus trees, as well as two olive trees, an apple tree, and an avocado tree--and I think it's safe to say I'll never get scurvy!

I have some new (and resurrected) interests and hobbies. I am working out with a trainer three days a week, on my lunch hour. I have started re-purposing old end-tables and nightstands that I find at thrift stores into indoor dog houses (tentatively named "Bitsy Beds" after one of my Chihuahuas, and which you may see eventually on www.bitsybeds.com). I am thinking of selling the dog houses, and donating a portion of the profits to help small dog/Chihuahua rescues - as sadly Chihuahuas and Chihuahua mixes are the most euthanized breed in southern California animal shelters. That breaks my heart, as they are such wonderful little dogs with big, big personalities. I've started painting a little again - never a real skill, but something I enjoyed dabbling with a decade or so ago.

One of my little Chihuahuas may be show quality, and I am also thinking about taking her to some dog shows (something I did for years with my mom as a teenager) on occasional weekends.

I am recovering financially, and hopefully in some years I'll recoup more of what I've lost in the past five years, although I will probably never fully recover.

I feel my life is back on track again after many years of being derailed. I know that many people faced hardships in the past few years with the economic downturn and housing crisis. I was one of them. I am proud of the way I kept going, kept a roof over the heads of my family and pets, kept paying my bills - although it did not come without personal sacrifice.

People have commented that they couldn't do what I did. But, I think they would if push came to shove. You do what you have to do to survive, and never, never, never give up. Life is 10% what gets thrown at you, and 90% how you deal with what is thrown at you. You must be strong.

My husband has always told me that he knows I'm happy when he hears me singing around the house. I'm singing again.

You can find out more about Sarah Scott by visiting her website or Following her on Facebook.

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