Transforming Turmoil into Triumph

Part Three of a Three Part Series

by Guest Blogger Dianne Orwig



Transformation #3 – THE SPIRIT – Fast forward to July 4 – Independence Day again – but this time, 2008. After receiving several email invitations to join a new site created by Bill Phillips called, I decided to go in and take a look. I really missed my days at Lean and Strong and felt this might be the perfect way to get back to giving back.

I remember the palpable feeling of uneasiness when I logged on that first time, but I attributed it to past history. I reasoned that whatever transpired between Bill and I had happened years ago and besides, it wasn’t as though I harbored any resentment for the way things unfolded. Bill was just a busy guy, publishing is a fickle business, and my book just wasn’t a good match for High Point Media.

I reasoned as well that transformation is about moving forward, to a new place, a new beginning. Just for my own satisfaction, joining the site felt like a good way for me to say nice work, so happy to be here. I put up a profile, sent a quick email to Bill congratulating him on the launch, and set out to find my place in the community.

Despite feeling twitchy and insecure whenever I was on the site, a pretty unusual feeling for me, I continued to log on, make friends, and do my best to share what I had learned from my experience of training a thousand-plus people on the Body-for-LIFE program. I blogged, posted inspirational success stories from many of my own clients, and spent hours coaching many individuals, a few of whom actually went on to become champions.

Since training is my profession, I would occasionally receive questions about what I might charge if someone were interested in hiring me off site and my response was always that “any help I offer on is, and always will be, something I do to pay forward. If I met you here, there is a reason. Once you have asked for my help, I am here to help you to the fullest of my ability. There will never be any fee attached.” Still, I could never shake the uncomfortable feeling that I was being, for lack of a better word, observed.

Then, after seven months of watching threads being removed, posts being censored, hands being slapped, and folks being booted, and with absolutely no contact from Bill whatsoever, I received an email from him a few days before Christmas. It said he hoped my holidays were going well but that he “Just wanted to respectfully ask that you not court Sharen and other Transformation Honorees to endorse your services, books, programs, etc.”

My first reaction was“What?” I mentally scanned over the previous week on and remembered that a few days earlier a friend who I had been coaching there had published her before-and-after pictures, saying publicly that I had helped coach her through her transformation.

That week she and I received dozens of emails (her results were pretty jaw-dropping!) and, at one point, she shared with me that Sharen had contacted her, saying that she wanted “those amazing abs” too. She said that Sharen was hesitant to contact me directly because she thought I might be too busy and suggested that perhaps I should drop her a line.

So I sent a brief email to Sharen, saying that I was never too busy and would love to chat if she ever felt inclined. This later resulted in an exchange of emails, at which some point Sharen said she was excited about the possibility and the opportunity of working with me, the opportunity being the same one that I had openly offered anyone and everyone at from day one, but she explained that she felt she should run it by Bill first, just to make sure it wouldn’t create any conflicts.

In his email Bill went on to say, “Sharen is now at merely the beginning point for the truly powerful transformation. Sharen has a healthy and fit body. She gains nothing by getting leaner or stronger as I see it. Her path is now open to trlanscend physical concerns and continue with her spiritual work which she is ready for in ’09. The body change is step 1 of 11 and to ask her to direct her consciousness to repeating that course, as you have (inadvertently) done, could hold back her growth and spiritual transformation. I don’t feel that is fair to Sharen. Perhaps you understand.”

I sat for a moment in disbelief, trying to figure out how my conversations with Sharen had led to this. I went back to try and piece it all together, but when I searched my private email box for our conversations, I could only find one. What happened to the rest I have no idea.

Yes, I remember telling Sharen that I wanted to write a book one day but anyone who talked to me knew that. I told her that I felt I understood what she was hoping to achieve. Being a past champion myself and having trained other champions, I explained that I had learned a lot about the unique needs of folks who had already “arrived”. I mentioned that there weren’t that many Trainers to the Champions out there and I loved the idea of sharing all of the subtle tweaks I had learned over the years, the same tweaks that had helped our mutual friend get those great abs! But I knew, regardless of what was said, whether I was in error or not, in Bill’s eyes I had stepped way out of bounds.

I was so frustrated and hurt, but the thing I found most disturbing was how THE guru of fitness and health had suddenly decided that he was in charge of determining at which point someone “had nothing to gain by getting leaner or stronger.” Wasn’t that something for Sharen to decide on her own?

His email concluded with “There are SO many people out there whom you can reach with your work and who can authentically endorse you that I know it is not necessary for you to recruit from those who represent the new Transformation Way or those who aspire to through their involvement with the online community.”

I responded immediately, saying, “I truly apologize for the miscommunication – because I sincerely believe that is what has happened. After looking over my emails with Sharen, I can understand how my intention might have been lost in translation, but you have my solemn promise, my aim was never to solicit.”

My gut told me to leave but I knew in my heart I had done nothing wrong. I wanted to scream “I’ve never done anything but offer my help. Ask anyone who has ever connected with me at and every one of them will tell you I have one agenda and it’s to help and learn.” But when you know you haven’t done anything wrong, explaining starts to feel more like defending, and I felt neither the need nor the desire to defend anything.

So I stayed, reasoning that I couldn’t let go of all of the people I was connected to, all the friends I had made, all of the people I was continuing to help. Besides, if I left, how would I explain it? People would want to know. Would I be able to explain it without hurting someone?

Then a few weeks later, I received this from Bill: “Hey we communicated not too long ago about you using to solicit clients for your business and how that is very much against the intention of the site. I hoped you would comply, but unfortunately you have continued to come to and solicit people to your database. That’s against the terms of the site, and it’s really non-integrous as well.” I could only surmise that the unforgivable offense for which I was being removed occurred when I offered my regular email address to someone who wrote to me on my “private” email account, inquiring about my free weekly fitness tips.

Seconds after Bill’s email arrived, my profile was removed. The tornado swept through and in less than five minutes, seven months of love, caring, and heart were swept off the map.


TURMOIL turns to TRIUMPH – Adversity is a funny thing. It’s something that most of us look upon as the bad stuff. But more often than not, when we allow it, adversity has the power to turn into something surprisingly extraordinary.

The truth, at least for me, is that without adversity nothing much would ever change, and I’m a firm believer that change is what we came here to do. We came here to change and transform – ourselves, the world, and each other, for the better. And while the way we experience change isn’t always pretty or pleasant, it is always miraculous.

Every difficult moment of your life contains the seed of something greater. I’ve learned not to look at something upsetting and ask, “what does this mean?” or “how do I stop this?” Instead I ask “what’s coming next?” Because the good is almost always right around the corner.

In the years since my last transformation, I’ve gone on to build a thriving online coaching business,, a successful corporate wellness program named FitWorks, and I continue to help my clients change their bodies and lives through a program I developed called Living Fit. I am also the proud author of nine highly successful e-books. In fact, if you’d like, I’ll send you one just for making it through this ridiculously long story.

Above all, I continue to blissfully follow my passion and purpose. That, I have discovered, is what real Transformation is all about. For me, transformation comes not from what happens to you but from what you DO with what happens to you, something Henry Ford said a long time ago.

It’s not the fair things in life that bring about real change. It’s the mixed up soup of uncertainty, misunderstandings, unfulfilled promises, and deep burning desire that conjures up the unstoppable action that creates that unique, new, wonderful YOU. No one can do it for you. You have to, as my beautiful friend, Michelle, has so eloquently pointed out “Be Your Own Oz.”

So I promised there would be a point to all of this, and here it is: When you can find a way to embrace all of the things life throws your way and welcome it all, good, bad and in-between… When you can say thank you to the antagonist for harassing me into alignment…thank you for showing me what I don’t want so I can finally move on to all the things I do…When you can happily throw your arms around all of it and know that this is what led you here…You, my friend, will have experienced true transformation.

Love your turmoil, celebrate your triumphs and, above all, be thankful for all of it. It is, after all, the soup that makes you YOU!

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19 Responses to Transforming Turmoil into Triumph

  1. Rena says:

    Looks to me like today’s WORD OF THE DAY needs to be integrous. This is defined as “Having or characterized by integrity” This definition brought me to continue on and look up integrity’s “official definition.”

    1. steadfast, steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.
    2. The state of being wholesome; unimpaired
    3. The quality or condition of being complete; pure

    Read those three definitions again… Both “integrous” and its root word “integrity” are words that serve as a flashing, neon, Vegas-style sign. And that sign points directly to people like you Dianne–and Michelle and so many others I feel blessed to know though our common journey paths. You are firmly rooted in traits that produce actions congruent with both of these terms. These actions can withstand the light of day Dianne–and that is no small thing. For it is when we need to hide, cover up, spin truth and cover our tracks that integrity is lacking. In all the time I have known you, I have never once known you to been anything but.

    Your advice here is spot on–

  2. maryann says:

    I’m standing and cheering loudly. i have come to this conclusion recently too as a result of the bumps and bruises of life…they are not to be focused on and lingered over as painful and bad and negative, but perhaps to be rejoiced in as the Necessary thing to propel on on our path to JOY. we can’t avoid all the bumps and pain…but we can look for the bright window that is opening.

  3. Troy says:

    The rest of your story is so powerful and truth based DIanne! I remember you were always there with food tips, support, and offering so much of yourself in helping me and others. I remember contacting you when they removed your profile, and just like Michelle, said I would find my own truth though this without ever saying one thing negative about t.con then.
    You are what change is all about in my opinion.
    Bill needs to step back and learn a lesson in humility from you and then maybe he can make the differences in society he so eloquently tries to preach.

  4. Ediegram says:

    I am so shocked by what I have read, but am not surprised. I have seen people just “disappear”. It’s so sad, and I am sorry for what you have gone through. I would be very interested in reading your ebook. I remember seeing you on tcom. You were always very helpful! I really thought that was what it was all about.. paying it forward. Sounds like I need to get to know you!

  5. Danielle Zimmerman says:

    Thank you for sharing Dianne. 🙂

  6. Simi says:

    Powerfully written, but sad and frustrating that it turned out like this. I truly appreciate what you, Michelle, and others are doing here.

  7. Laura Howe says:

    Dianne…I am so glad we meet and if it was not for that place I would not of meet a lot of sincere great people over the 2 yrs there I have kept many great friendships and some worshipers were left by the way side indeed but much more was gained. I in my experiences there learned more about people and about life than maybe my entire 43 yrs of life in some ways…although it was also my 43 yrs of life experience that kept me true to my beliefs and soul. I am so excited for the future and I am blessed to have you and so many REAL people whom I admire in my life ,Love, Laura xox

  8. Jan says:

    “When I tell any truth, it is not for the sake of convincing those who do not know it, but for the sake of defending those that do.” ~William Blake

    Dianne, thank you for giving this matter the light it needs. Light is essential for growth. I hope this helps those struggling in any hurt or confusion through their involvement with the community to gain some peace and understanding.

  9. Paul Bagley says:

    Dianne, I always wondered what happened that you were just gone one day at – That is just wrong the way you were treated and booted. I am happy for you that things turned out for the best with your endevours. You were always helpful, inspiring and a good friend to me on and I thank you for that – and from what I witnessed you were helping so many (anyone who asked) at
    Thanks for sharing, Paul :<)

  10. Jill says:

    I am just floored and so sad. I am sad that someone who brought us a life changing “program” and brought us all together has completely gone mad. I don’t want to bad mouth BP, but I am waiting to hear him talk about the benefits of joining him in the sweat lodge.

    Ten years ago when I did my first BFL challenge, someone who knew him told me about who the real Bill was. I didn’t want to believe it. It took a number of years but he has shown his true colors.

    Last year when Bill backed out of the CFL cruise I was so upset and posted something on my Facebook page. Within minutes I had heard from people, some of them I have never even met, telling me that I should not be disappointed because the illusion of who he is, is more positive than who he actually is. The cruise was an amazing opportunity to meet so many BFL’ers without a distraction.

    Diane, I am so sorry for your experiences with BP and thank you for sharing your story with us.

  11. Suzanne says:

    Dianne, thank you for sharing your story. I am amazed at what everyone has gone through! I’m even more amazed at how everyone is starting to see through the “evil” they experienced and find the positive. It’s exactly as you say, you have to look around the corner to see what is next!

    I hope others will feel inclined to share their stories and start the healing process as they become their own Oz!

    • Linda Ann Smith says:

      Dianne, thank you for this lesson in life. I have been saddened by the actions and re-actions of the man that gave a program that lifted me up in so many ways only to turn me down every time I tried to share or give to the community. My profile still stands but it’s lost like a needle in a haystack. The challenges I did, the stories I shared, the advice I inspired many with are now just a memory. The countless hours I gave freely to encourage people to gain their happiness and meet their goals were acknowledged and appreciated by so many, yet to Bill Phillips and many of the Champions I was not in the place I should be. I had to continue to work on myself and made to feel I wasn’t good enough to give advice or create and lead a group. I can’t tell you how many times I was told that I had to learn compassion and give unconditionally. The lessons I learned in life as a foster parent caring for 22 children in 15 years gave me the heart of compassion and the ability to love unconditionally. It took a while but I realized that while I was trying to become what Bill Phillips and Carolyn thought I should be I was missing out on enjoying the wonderful life I already had. Coming to terms with the knowledge of understanding and knowing my own true self and realizing my own self-worth was the best transformation I could have ever made. I no longer search for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, it was already in my own back yard.

  12. Sally says:

    Your light shines so brightly, D.O.! Miss you…

  13. Laura Howe says:

    Linda…I have been saying a lot over 2 yrs time now and I could NOT of said it better myself…I am glad you are WHO you are and WHERE you are as it is perfect! A place that states Peace,Love & Happiness are the main goals should never tell anyone they are not “enough ” of anything as we are all individual’s and that is what God intended and what makes us uniquely HUMAN ! Have a blessed day and I am proud and inspired by your achievements ..physically yes but mentally even more as fostering is HARD and being supportive and kind and loving takes a beautiful soul for sure,Love Laura & Baby Reggie

  14. Brett Cullum says:

    Dianne –
    Interesting to hear your side of the tale over at Transformation. I am always baffled when the tornadoes come and someone disappears. I always treasured your advice on the site, and it’s a loss to not have you on there.

    And Linda, I miss you there too! Love seeing you still out in the world inspiring people.

    Much love to everybody, and thanks for putting up these blogs…

  15. Dianne says:

    I guess what I love best in all of this is the compassion and understanding in everyone’s posts. I am so thankful to be surrounded by such amazing, inspirational and real people. I feel such a blessing from all of you for your comments and for just being there. It means the world to me.

    Perhaps this is where we were all meant to end up. In a place where we know how it feels to lift, grow, learn, inspire and be inspired.

    Now that’s what I look forward to doing next. Let’s do it together.


  16. kdfitness says:

    Thank you for sharing your story Dianne. I remember going to your profile one day and it was gone.
    There is something special about the people that Bill’s programs attract.
    Things that have happened in the community have made me more observant.
    I appreciate you and Michelle and others sharing your stories.

  17. Deb says:

    I just read this again and am amazed. The more I find out (I left over a year ago…almost 2!), the more I realize how much of a cult it was/is. In reading Bill’s responses to you, I see it ever so clearly now. I’m STILL recovering…I think I always will be…but it’s getting easier day by day. I’m trying not to beat myself up for believing in Bill and for being so naive.

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