By Spencer Osborne
Ellie Wenker – Trial, Tribulation, Challenges, SUCCESS
If you had the good fortune to wake up tomorrow and be whatever you wanted to be would you do it? You likely have a picture in your mind about what the perfect life would look like. You can probably outline the first and most important things you would change. You may have even tried to start the process of attaining these dreams many times. Unfortunately sometimes life simply gets in the way. When we dream about our perfect life we rarely consider or even give a passing thought to how difficult the journey can be. With each passing day, week, month, and year, the visions of our dreams can lose clarity, focus, and seem even further away. Bringing a dream to reality for some can actually seem to be a never ending nightmare.
Every once in a while there is someone that has an epiphany and begins to march forward and take control of their path. They set aside past failures and forge ahead with a vigor. The past failures become valuable experiences that actually develop a road map to success. The dream becomes clearer again, more focused, and actually suddenly becomes more achievable than ever before.
Ellie Wenker is a special person. This Texas girl stands at 5’-8” tall, has shining blond hair, is fun, outgoing, and up for trying new things. She has beautiful blue eyes and is the type of person that is as comfortable in a pair of jeans and boots as she is in a sundress on a hot Texas day. At 44 years old she is the person that friends love to spend time with and is often considered the life of the party. Ellie is compassionate and a true friend to many. She is very giving and can often be seen wearing a stunning smile that people simply gravitate to. Almost anyone that meets her considers it an honor to call her a friend. Ellie is obese and weighed as much as 293 pounds.
As you were reading that last paragraph you likely had an image in your mind. That image was likely of a beautiful Southern Belle with long flowing blond hair and a dynamite smile. You probably pictured her at a party chatting up with friends, laughing, smiling, and carrying on. That vision probably changed the second I told you that Ellie is obese. Well, let me tell you something. The entire description of Ellie is spot on, and the vision that you initially had when you were reading it is what you will actually be seeing soon. Ellie has made it he mission to take weight off, get healthy, and spread the word.
In order to appreciate this story and this journey I want to go back in time. Ellie was in Junior High school. It is a sensitive time in anyone’s life. It is the period where young boys and girls are beginning to change into young men and women. It is a time where human beings begin to learn more about life and start to take on their own unique identity. It is also the time when lifelong lessons begin to be learned.
In Junior High School Ellie was not obese. Ellie had some extra pounds and was overweight, but wanted to simply make friends and have fun just like any kid. She liked music, saw the latest trends, and wanted to simply be accepted. Unfortunately, for Ellie, it was not that simple. How can you smile and be happy when kids call you “Ellie the cow”? How do you put on a bright smile and tackle your school work when people are looking at you and giggling? People may not realize it, but such things have a compounding impact. It was not long before Ellie began to see herself as not measuring up to other kids.
In high school the issue got worse. Not because the teasing increased, but more to the compounding effect and continued feelings of not measuring up. She saw other girls with their boyfriends and saw people forming into cliques that she was not good enough to be included in. She wanted a boyfriend, but she was “Ellie the cow” and frankly, the emotional stress of a relationship was probably not something she could handle. She felt shame around her body and hated that she was fat. How could anyone else possibly like her if she did not really like herself? The wear and tear this delivers to a person is heart wrenching. To make up for her lack of self-esteem Ellie put forth a more outgoing personality. She used humor more often in order to gain acceptance. If she was not the pretty girl in the group, perhaps she could be accepted because she was funny. What most of her friends did not know was that when Ellie went home at night she was sad. In fact, she was very sad. She wanted to lose weight and be more of the “classic girl-next-door”, but it was not easy. The physical and emotional hurdles had already started forming. It was a roller-coaster ride. Put on a happy outward appearance during the day and then cry at night, because even trying to be the humorous one did not seem to open the door to full acceptance.
People that were closest to Elllie wanted to help and support, but their efforts made Ellie feel like she was being judged. This added to the sadness and the overwhelming feeling that she was a failure in some way. These dynamics began to create anger in Ellie. She was not yet at a point where she could face these issues head on. She was a high school kid that had already had the unfortunate experience of emotional turmoil. The hurdles were higher now and simply seemed insurmountable. Ellie had two distinct paths that she used in trying to cope. One was to simply be sad and bottle it all up. The other was to show others she was sad and garner sympathy. Even though the sympathy was not the attention she really wanted, it was attention none the less. Unfortunately, this usually brought on more sadness because you can only lie to yourself for so long before the reality once again hits that you are simply not as good as everyone else.
For Ellie, college meant a new opportunity. She could get a fresh start, make new friends, and perhaps gain the social acceptance that had thus far in life eluded her. The problem was that society is judgmental. Even with a fresh start it did not take long for people to look at her in a way that she felt was judgmental. Even at college the professors seemed to give the “good looking” crowd more attention. For Ellie, the same old story was taking shape. For Ellie, that meant more nights sitting at home alone in sadness. Ellie was not a total hermit, but even trying to be social meant trying to put on a happy face that did not really match her feelings.
After college the harsh reality of life really set in. Can you imagine going to interviews and having the person across the table look at you in a way that clearly exposes their thoughts. How many times can you handle short interviews followed up by a simple, “Thank you, but you just do not seem to be the right fit for us”? How long can a person handle being qualified in every respect, but not qualified because of the social stigma attached to weight? The perfect job was eluding Ellie in much the same way that the perfect body was. It seemed like a cruel joke.
Having been through the same thing time and time again, Ellie began to break down. She began to accept that obesity was simply part of her life. She began to accept that she was not supposed to have the same things everyone else did. This was perhaps one of the most troubling times in her life. She was accepting a lower status. She was becoming complacent with this “fate.” Ellie no longer had dreams. They were simply too disappointing. Setting goals was out of the question. Just existing and getting by became a challenge.
Not everything in Ellie’s life was bad. There were many bright spots. The problem was that the bright spots were few and far between. Being able to cope essentially took on an existence in denial. In her mind she took the weight issue and placed it in a box. She closed the box and wrapped it up tightly. She placed that box in the back of her mind. Every day she would get up and put on a happy face. She would go to work, smile, be outgoing and friendly. She became the person that people enjoyed talking to in a work setting, but most would not really bother to socialize with her outside of work. She hid her real emotions when home and found solace in eating, watching a movie, or reading a book. She simply tried to keep herself occupied and busy. When everything slowed down, the contents of that ”fat box” in her mind would begin to creep out and bring on sadness. She has probably cried 10 times more than most.
Failure Is Inevitable
Once or twice a year Ellie would gain enough inspiration to try something to lose weight. It was usually brought on by some fabulous testimonial about how this program or that will melt away pounds. The pounds never melted away. Somehow the sadness and emotion would always come through bringing on visions of hurdles that now looked like mountains. The perceived impossibility of success was enough to derail any attempts to lose weight. The dreams of the perfect Ellie were long gone. She could not even picture that anymore.
A Spark Of Light
Despite being at an all-time low, and now weighing 293 pounds, Ellie was still living an existence. She would go to work and be happy, then go home and be sad. Ellie had almost gotten to the point of simply accepting this existence as something that defined her life. Then it happened. A spark of light.
Ellie went to a regularly scheduled doctors appoint. She had no idea that one of just 200 sales reps for Belviq, an Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:ARNA) product, had just been there to meet the doctor and tell him about the recently launched anti-obesity drug.
Ellie knew the staff at the doctor’s office and always had good conversation with them. You see, outwardly Ellie has a terrific personality. People simply know when Ellie is in the room. Not because of her weight, but simply because she can be such a joy to converse with.
Upon entering the office, Karen, one of the staff, exclaimed, “Ellie’s here. Get Ellie to try it!” Of course, the “it” was the anti-obesity drug Belviq. After some hellos and quick conversation, Ellie went in to her appointment. Her doctor told her about the drug, went over the profile of the drug, and told Ellie that he was of the opinion that Belviq was something she should consider. There was a 15 day free trial, so Ellie had nothing to lose. She left the office with the free 15 day coupon in hand.
As Ellie got into her car and placed the coupon in her pocketbook she had a thought that perhaps this was worth a try. Then the hurdles, mountains, and doubt took over to try to snuff out the spark of light. Would this be yet another empty promise of weight loss? Was it worth getting her hopes up and trying? Would another failure be tolerable? Does anyone really care? Does Ellie really care?
She stored away the coupon and went to work. That little spark sat in her pocketbook and could very well be forgotten, nestled up against a receipt from the store and a post-it note with the faded ink of a shopping list long since passed.
Ellies doctor’s appointment was now three days past. She had thought about Belviq a few times, but honestly the risk of another failure was simply too daunting at the moment. Tomorrow is another day, and maybe, if she happens to be passing the pharmacy she would fill it. Maybe. Ellie went to bed.
The next day Ellie bumped into a friend from her earlier years. They chatted, shared old stories and caught up on what had transpired over the last two decades. It was a happy day that took Ellie back in time a bit when she was 100 pounds lighter, but still overweight. As Ellie and her friend caught up they did what many people do. Her friend snapped a picture of the two of them together.
Upon going home Ellie was happy in the thoughts of yesteryear. Going back in time was great. She could picture herself back then with her friend. She could picture herself and her friend listening to music, laughing, and carrying on. She could picture herself as Ellie at 24 years old and 100 pounds lighter. She was still overweight then, but being just under 200 pounds instead of approaching 300 pounds now seemed good.
With those images in her mind Ellie turned on her computer and brought up Facebook. To her horror the picture of Ellie and her friend was posted and she was tagged in it. What she saw was not the Ellie of just under 200 pounds from yesteryear, but instead an Ellie that was substantially heavier and pushing the envelope of 300 pounds. It was a shock. It was a reality check. As a tear began to form in here eye, Ellie was on the verge of another depressing moment. She considered removing the photo, but did not want to upset her friend. Normally Ellie might have had a small cry, found something comforting to eat, and sat on the couch sad about herself and her life. Instead, she wiped her eyes, took a deep breath, and thought about that free coupon she had received from her doctor to try Belviq.
Ellie reached into her purse and extracted the Belviq coupon. She looked at it, read it, and still the doubts came rushing over her. She had tried so many things and failed. She then thought about the Ellie of 20 years ago. Is it worth the risk of failing once again? From deep within the courage that had kept Ellie going for 44 years welled up. Ellie took the coupon, got into her car, and filled the prescription. Ellie now had her 15 day free trial of Belviq in hand.
Taking a pill seems like a simple task, but when you are in a situation like Ellie’s it is not. The moment she takes one of those pills she becomes committed to the possibility of failure. When failure has happened so many times, one begins to question whether success is ever possible.
Ellie filled a glass with water…”Can Belviq really work?”
Ellie opened the bottle of Belviq…”What if it does not work?”
Ellie opened her left hand and formed it into a cup…”Why should I bother?”
Ellie shook the bottle with her right hand and a Belviq tablet came out, tumbling end-over-end until it rested in her left hand…”I hope it works”
Ellie raised the glass…”I want it to work”
Ellie placed the blue Belviq pill on her tongue…”I will start a healthy diet tomorrow”
Ellie swallowed the pill…”Oh my God, I have to make this work”
Ellie wanted success. She wanted to see this work. She thought back to her appointment with her doctor. He had told her that this pill is designed to work with eating right and getting exercise. He had explained that the pill works to curb appetite, so it could help her eat less right away, but eating healthy was the goal. Ellie was still unsure.
Ellie thought about things for quite some time. She was encouraged by the thought of losing weight but still lacked the confidence to see things through. For Ellie, she needed to have motivation. She decided to make her new commitment public. She decided to share this journey with her friends and family by being public about this and starting a small blog. Little did she know that her blog would be seen by more than just her friends and family. Her blog found its way to the computer screens of many that are in a similar situation. Ironically, a blog designed to help herself maintain courage was actually serving as an inspiration for many others. Ellie’s story, at that moment, became a story of many that are overweight and obese. Suddenly, many that had suppressed their emotions and feelings for so long felt safe and no longer felt alone in their struggles.
The Realization of Feeling Different
After taking that Belviq pill Ellie went about her day. When lunch came Ellie treated it like any other meal. It was not like that though. Ellie felt full after eating only half of it. So full in fact that she had no desire to finish the meal. This struck Ellie as odd. Was it really possible that this little pill called Belviq could do that? Ellie was inspired and curious.
Ellie finished her day and took her second pill. She had skipped her usual snacking, and at dinner had a small yet healthy meal. That evening she had no desire to snack. Ellie began to get really excited. She was still cautious, but she was excited.
As incredible as it may sound this little pill, Belviq, did seem to change the way she felt about food. It did curb her appetite. Ellie could tell at that moment that Belviq was something special. Confidence filled her and she knew she had a mission.
When Ellie started Belviq she weighed 293 pounds. After one week she had lost 8 pounds. That is impressive, but there are other things that are worth noting. She did not feel a need to snack. Her appetite for 4 or 5 cans of soda a day were disappearing. She felt good, and she felt healthier. At her second weigh in she had lost another 5 pounds. At 14.5 pounds lost she would officially be what is called a “responder” to Belviq. The goal is to determine “responder status by the 12th week. The concept behind the “responder” is that if you have not lost 5% of your weight by the 12th week, Belviq likely would not work for you. People that have weight issues due to appetite and eating are more likely to be responders. Ellie, after just two weeks, was only 1.5 pounds away from being a “responder”.
On July 11th, 2013 Ellie officially qualified as a responder. She had lost 14.5 pounds in just under three weeks. At her official 1 month weigh-in Ellie had lost a total of 18 pounds in her first month. That is an impressive 6% of her body weight. Losing weight is about more than shedding pounds. It is also about improving one’s self-image. Ellie is happy, outgoing and has an air of confidence about her. For the first time in years that happy and outgoing persona she puts on for work is actually how she feels all day. Ellie knows she has a long way to go and is being smart and setting small goals that are attainable yet aggressive. She is taking this journey a step at a time and what’s even better is that she is sharing it so others might see a little spark of light and make that fateful decision to tackle this issue for themselves.
Ellie did not have a concrete plan going into this. In fact, she is learning more and more each day and kind enough to share what she learns. Ellie’s plan evolves, but there are a few basic tips she expresses.
- Find a motivation. If you are motivated about something you are more likely to succeed in accomplishing it. For Ellie, that motivation came partially from within and partially from putting herself out there to the public. By making her story public she is motivated to succeed.
- Develop overall goals and then break it down into manageable pieces. Ellie wants to weigh a healthy 160 pounds. That means she needs to lose 133 pounds. Trying to imagine losing 133 pounds is not easy. This is why her initial goal was to lose 50 pounds. She is well on her way to that goal. After the first 50 it is 20 pound increments.
- Find support where you can. Ellie has friends and family that support her in many ways. Losing weight is not always easy. There are peaks and valleys along the way. It can also be an emotional roller coaster. Understand that people want you to succeed, and go to them for support.
- Find recipes that are healthy. Believe it or not, healthy food can taste great. In fact, a healthier body appreciates healthier foods.
- Help the process by being physically active. You do not have to spend hours on a treadmill right away. Take a walk and enjoy a park. Take the stairs instead of an elevator. Get a pedometer and try to walk 10,000 steps in a day. You may want to set small and attainable exercise goals as well.
- Most importantly, do not give up. If you have not started a journey yet, do not be afraid to try something new. What works for one person may not work for another. There is a solution out there and obesity is gaining more attention now than ever before. When you find something that works embrace it, grasp it tightly and run with it. Do not be afraid to be healthy and happy.
Ellie Wenker is in the very beginnings of her journey. A little blue pill called Belviq from Arena Pharmaceuticals is a big part of that. It gave her confidence that she had not previously experienced with other attempts at weight loss. Her biggest hurdle for decades was eating. Belviq worked wonders for her. Ellie is on her way to great things and we are all fortunate enough to see the Ellie transformation happening.
Early on I described to you a blond girl with blue eyes that was outgoing, happy, and the life of the party. You had a certain image in your mind. I then told you she was obese. That image changed immediately. Well I want you to close your eyes again and picture Ellie Wenker. Isn’t that amazing! You are picturing Ellie at her healthy and appropriate weight of 160 pounds. She can see that picture now as well.
Belviq came into Ellie’s life. The mountains and hurdles are coming down. Her vision of success is gaining more clarity with each day. She can dream again because now those dreams can come true. Dream you dream Ellie. It is safe to dream again! Congratulations on your initial results and we all look forward to seeing your dreams become reality.
You can view Ellie’s blog at www.belviqdaily.blogspot.com
Follow Ellie on Twitter – @ewenker
A Playground Radio interview with Ellie Wenker is available for streaming or download.
Spencer Osborne is a partner in SiriusBuzz.com and SiriusBuzz Premium, a website dedicated to discussion about SiriusXM Satellite Radio. He also writes exclusive articles for Seeking Alpha on a wide range of companies. Osborne brings researched based facets of companies to light that investors may want to consider.