Shelby Stidham is a testament to the positive results of change.
HOUSTON – August 21, 2017 – Shelby Stidham knew he wanted to ride the ZipRider at Icy Strait Point in Alaska when he traveled there this summer with his family. But for Stidham, a special education paraprofessional going into his fourth year at Twin Creeks Middle School, the question was, would he be able to? It wasn’t a matter of courage or getting over a fear of heights. For Stidham’s Alaskan adventure, it was all about the weigh-in at the top of the mountain.
He’d been there before, at that same exact scale, about three years earlier on a previous family trip. The zip line had a 275-pound weight limit for riders, and Stidham had to stay behind while other family members took the exhilarating 1,330-foot plunge.
“That was a bummer, because I was really looking forward to it,” Stidham said. “It was a little bit embarrassing, honestly, being told you can’t do something because of your weight.”
Inspiring others is at the heart of every educator’s work, but after close to a decade working in Spring ISD helping others achieve their best, Stidham realized he had to start taking better care of himself. On a clothes shopping trip, standing in the plus-size section and looking at clothes that went up to size 6X, he decided it was time for a change.
“I realized I better start on my weight-loss journey,” Stidham said. He began bringing protein shakes for lunch, which he would combine with fruit to help himself feel fuller. He also started using an app to track his daily steps. “That year, we had started our Biggest Loser competition on campus, and I won by losing 15 pounds,” he said. It was a modest start, but the feeling of accomplishment and progress got him hooked, together with the physical changes he started to see.
That’s why, when his family decided to return this year to Alaska and his parents challenged him to see if he could lose enough to ride the zip line this time around, Stidham didn’t get overwhelmed. He got excited.
“This last year I’ve really gone hard,” he said. He paid even more attention to his diet, and he started working with a personal trainer. Finally, after two challenging years, he had lost nearly 60 pounds and was ready to face his moment of truth in Alaska.
“I was very anxious getting on the scale at Icy Strait Point, because you’re traveling on a cruise ship with unlimited buffets and great food and there was no scale, so I was really nervous about getting on … but I got on, and I was able to ride. It was so much fun!”
It hasn’t all been easy going. Stidham’s weakness is sweets. “I love cakes. I cannot turn down cake. That’s my biggest challenge, cakes and sweet stuff.”
Stidham’s personal trainer stressed the importance of incorporating some freedom into his meal planning, and allowing for setbacks and a few cheat days along the way. “Because if you don’t, you will fall and you will fall hard,” Stidham said. “Moderation is always the key.”
When asked if he had any advice for others, Stidham recommended looking for smaller lifestyle and diet changes, and cutting out soda and sugary drinks.
“You have to create mini-goals in order to get to the big goal,” Stidham said. “You get positive reinforcement for reaching those mini-goals and objectives, and then you can take a step back and say, ‘Wow, I’ve made this much progress!’”
Realizations about how far he’s come still occur at odd moments. “I picked up a 50-pound weight the other day and I was like, ‘Holy cow, I’ve been carrying this much around in belly fat,’ and it was quite an amazing thing to think about – to step back and to look at.”
His next mini-goal is to have lost 100 pounds by the end of the year, and he’s finding fresh motivation in the positive feedback from his teammates at Twin Creeks, including fellow paraprofessional Anastasia Brown. “His weight-loss journey has been amazing,” Brown said. “He came a long way, he lost a lot of weight, and he just inspired me and motivated me. He’s done an amazing job.”
One final piece of advice from Stidham: “Never give up, because even if that scale goes up, you know that today is a different day.”