Why I Left Transformation.com by Troy "Zooman" Cook

Part Two of Two

by Guest Blogger Troy “Zooman” Cook


When you go out looking for the truth, there’s good odds you are going to find it. Chances are good it may not be what you expected. That doesn’t mean you don’t go looking. I learned that lesson 18 years ago when I hit rock bottom and asked the Lord for help. I had to face down some hard truths about who I’d become. It wasn’t easy, but it needed doing. You can’t run from things, you have to learn to face them.

It was mid July and I was getting more and more information that I didn’t like. Earlier that month, site Head Coach Grimes had been abruptly removed from the site. It was presented that he had decided to move on, but it struck folks kind of odd that his account had been totally deleted. All of his blogs were just gone. People were understandably upset and confused. If he left on good terms, why was his profile gone?

I’d made the decision to reach out to another former Transformation.com member, Michelle T. She’d abruptly left the site the previous year while she was a featured story. I’d asked her a few times before what happened. She refused to discuss it. I was heading to an Austin T.com meeting and decided to call her and ask again. After listening to me explain my concerns for a bit, she agreed to meet up with me to talk. Over lunch we shared our stories. (Read Why I Left Transformation.com by MichelleT here) I was shocked, but at the same time it fit in with other things I was hearing.

We left that meeting not really sure what was going to happen next. I knew one thing, I had to keep looking. As August went past I got more stories and more information. It seemed that Stoney hadn’t just been hitting on my friend. I spoke with several women who he’d approached. It felt like he was using the information from their assignments to target them. This was a pattern I’d seen before when I was going through AA.  In other cases he was approaching them as a Christian, using their faith to manipulate them into uncomfortable situations.

As a Christian and as a recovering alcoholic, both things upset me. In AA they made it clear that you were not supposed to engage in relationships with the people you were sponsoring. People are vulnerable when they are working through things and a sponsor is in a position to manipulate them.

I sent a message to the site voicing my concerns. I got a form letter back that didn’t answer anything. I was done. I wanted out. I started deleting my profile information. Only thing was, I couldn’t get my actual profile off. I didn’t want to be a shadow account. I wanted to be gone. I figured there was one sure way to get totally kicked off the site. Start a thread talking about what I thought was happening.

On September 12th I posted a thread on Bill Phillips’ web site Transformation.com. In that post I stated the reasons I was leaving the site. I felt if I mentioned some of the things that were happening on the site that my profile would be totally deleted, which is ultimately what I wanted.

I described how 2 years earlier Bill sent me an email via the site basically getting on me about a remark I jokingly made on a picture he had posted on his profile. That event left a bad taste in my mouth. I also discussed how I believed Coach Grimes was using the site and the 18 assignments to take advantage of women on the site, including a friend of mine based on discussions with her and several other women on the site.

I felt within a few hours I would be removed from the site like many of my friends had been removed over that two plus year period. After my post, I felt my profile would be deleted and possibly someone from the site would contact me to discuss my allegations.  To my great surprise, Bill or the powers that be decided to leave my post up. As a matter of fact, Bill was the second person to respond to my thread, offering an apology. He then said how I had reacted out of emotion with my other statements and would like to meet in person to address these accusations, apologize to the people I mentioned and discuss ways to prevent similar occurrences.

At that point in time I thought Bill didn’t know what I had found out about Coach Grimes. I wasn’t speaking from emotion, but from fact, and was hoping that several people would eventually come forward to validate what I was claiming. I did think though, that once the first person came forward to validate what I had to say, the thread would be deleted.

Well, people did validate my claims. The thread rapidly grew to twelve pages. I started to hope there would be some real change. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I’d been deleted, then undeleted and asked to come back on to answer Bill. What bugged me was how people were acting. I’d have folks telling me in private thank you. But they wouldn’t say it in public. There were other people who were supposed to be senior members of the community who just were ripping people for coming out and verifying what I’d said.  I was floored that a site that was created to help people change or transform their lives so they could regain their health and spiritual well being could post the statements they did. People were downright mean.

When the post first started generating responses, I had a lot of people email me via Facebook, personal email, my work email and text congratulating me and telling me I had done a noble thing. That it took a lot of courage for me to do that. I got messages that they knew stuff like this was going on and someone needed to speak up. But when the site was shut down for “maintenance” some of the same people starting asking me what was the point of my post and how was this helping others. When Bill’s profile disappeared a few days after that the messages got really ugly. I got messages from a several champions even telling me I needed to work more on these 18 assignments and I had no right to accuse Bill of anything and that these women knew what they were getting themselves into. Soon after that I was removed for good.

What happened to doing the right thing? What happened to getting rid of concealment? What happened?

I sit here and still wonder how it all got to this. From me getting involved in a vision that I believed was being led by a well respected fitness expert. His vision was to bring our country from worst to first in ten years in helping Americans regain and maintain their health. What do I do next?

I just keep doing what I’ve been doing only a little different.  I’m involved in a bunch of local area fitness activities including bike events and running charity races. I’ve found a new online community at BFLSpirit.com (TorchSpirit.com) which lets me keep reaching out to help people and doesn’t make people feel scared to speak up. Being the change isn’t about being some guru. It’s helping people find what works good for them, encouraging them, and supporting them.

Just like AA, that change happens one day at a time.

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Why I Left Transformation.com by Troy "Zooman" Cook

Part One of Two

by Guest Blogger Troy “Zooman” Cook


I think it was meeting Michelle T. for a face to face talk before an Austin Transformation.com meet up a couple of months ago that got me thinking. Like a lot of folks on the site, I’d been impressed and inspired by her transformation story. We had never really gotten a chance to talk much since we didn’t float through the same circles. After she left the site, I ran into her at a Texas area event and asked her why she’d left. She looked me in the eye and said, “I’m not going to talk about it.” So I left things alone.

This time was somehow different. This time I needed some answers to help me understand what I was seeing and hearing. I had received a text from a former Body-for-LIFE runner up who is a friend of mine. I was questioning things. This friend asked me if I was “still on that site” and I replied yes, but I was having my doubts. She went on to tell me some things about Bill and how he’d treated one his T.com champs during the Denver event in October of 2009. That got me thinking and worrying about other things that were going on behind the scenes with the site.

I decided to contact the T.com champion. We talked for a while and she shared with me what Bill had done and said to her in Denver. The way he treated her after she posted an assignment and then her resulting dismissal from the site. It was all very odd and bizarre, but again, it was like other stories I was hearing about Bill. I talked to Michelle about this and more and she shared with me her experiences on the site and what went on leading up to her departure from the site.

There was no discussion about what we’d do next, but I think we both knew from that point on we needed to speak out and be a voice that needed to heard on and off the site. It was from that point I stepped back and started recollecting my journey on T.com from where it started and to ultimately where it has gone.

I found the site through my friend Jonnae Taylor.  She was fighting a losing battle with leukemia. We were pen pals and she had written to tell me Bill Phillips had paid a visit to her home to grant her wish. It was from there that I looked up Transformation.com and was led to the site, more like actually drawn to it. It had a vision, a leader and a mission. It was a mission I thought I could lend a hand in. It was a vision I felt I would be doing some good work helping others and paying what I had learned through Body-for-LIFE forward.

Yet almost from the beginning odd things started to happen. Since I work shift work I could log on to the site at all times and correspond with people from different time zones and from all over the world. It was the late night things that I found odd. Things like Bill responding to a member’s question about whether heavy metal music was appropriate for her spouses’ profile or not, or correcting others for comments they had made in general, only to see Bill’s critical comments deleted by the next morning. It seemed like they were written on the spur of the moment, without thinking about how they might hurt people. And the way the comments were deleted, like he had some of his IT people following him and cleaning up after him. I moved past this and tried to never get involved, but had talked to several of the friends I had made on the site. When Bill posted hurtful and inappropriate things it was a general consensus that this was  once again ”Bill being Bill.”

Several of us got together and started an accountability group. It wasn’t anything official, just 20 – 30 of us and a thread where we all posted. Within a few months, several of those people were deleted for speaking their mind about Dianne Orwig’s profile being deleted. (Read Transforming Turmoil Into Triumph here.) The guy who started the thread was eventually deleted, then allowed to return. He left after he confided in me that he was being censored. He had questioned Bill about the site and the fact that T.com was actually a model plan of a marketing venue.

I put a lot of time, energy and money into the site, helping people with workouts, food choices, encouragement and even helping out financially where I could to make a difference in other’s lives. Later on, I was a leader of an accountability group. I was asked to do this after our team leader had taken a leave from the site.

I took my responsibility seriously. Members of the group were making great changes. I kept noticing that other groups were getting more recognition. I couldn’t understand why. After a few attempts of trying to get some recognition for our group, I felt that the group would have to make it on its own. It began to feel like it was a clique or a circle of whom you knew and who you didn’t offend as far as the group leaders were concerned.

Around this time, one of the site’s senior coaches, Stoney Grimes, made a fairly aggressive pass at a friend of mine. She was uncomfortable enough with what happened that she decided to leave the site. I tried several times to get someone to talk to about the incident. I was counseled to follow my heart on the matter, and told that it would do no good to bring this up to Bill directly or the online community. So I stayed quiet. But my frustration grew.

Several people in my group made some recognition-worthy changes. They didn’t get acknowledgement for their work. It felt like these individuals were denied any recognition due to the fact they were in my group and I’d made some waves.  The people that were recognized got money and a trip to the Make a Wish Denver 2009 Event. One of the people in my group bumped into Head Coach Stoney Grimes and he was totally impressed with the change she had made and made a few comments regarding her changes. After talking to a mutual friend of hers, I then told her what had happened with my friend and the reason I felt our mutual friend (being a member in my group) got no recognition. This was just another example of some of the things I had encountered.

I hung around one person in Denver almost continuously and he mentioned to me that Coach Grimes tensed up every time I got near him. I hadn’t noticed at first but after it was mentioned to me I saw what he was talking about. We also talked about how odd it was that during the meet and greet that afternoon in the area of the hotel that we would be having our seminars that Bill never made an appearance. I found out later on that afternoon, he was there, in a back area, watching from a distance. The only time I heard he would mingle with people was when it was set up more like a controlled photo shoot. I never really sought to go find out, but heard this from several people. It all seemed very odd to me that Bill would be so stand-offish during an event he created.

I guess after Denver I noticed a few more people leaving but nothing really seemed out of place. March 2010 rolled around and we all gathered in Dallas for another event. I had the pleasure after Dallas to open my home up to several members again and we spent most of the week hanging out, talking about the event and talking about future plans.

During this time I had several prominent people in my group delete their profiles. Each one of them stated that it was the 18 assignments that we were working on for each challenge we entered that led them to this decision. Some of the other reasons by various members in our group was that they didn’t feel the need to openly reveal things from their past that they had already dealt with. There was discussion that Coach Grimes would contact and discuss their most personal aspects of what they had revealed. He was telling them things that were not what had been discussed in other talks or threads. People were uncomfortable and started feeling that having that information in a public space was a bad idea. Anyone could find this information. Thing was, it seemed like it was required to have your information out there for everyone to see if they were to be counted in the challenges.

As I questioned my intention and the intentions of others, I began to wonder what had happened to certain individuals and started the process of finding out and asking questions. Nothing could have prepared me for what I was going to find.


 Excerpt from Part 2 – to be posted Thursday, November 11

 When you go out looking for the truth, there’s good odds you are going to find it. Chances are good it may not be what you expected. That doesn’t mean you don’t go looking. I learned that lesson 18 years ago when I hit rock bottom and asked the Lord for help. I had to face down some hard truths about who I’d become. It wasn’t easy, but it needed doing. You can’t run from things, you have to learn to face them.


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December 26, 2009 9:11 am

by Laura Howe


I joined the Body-for-LIFE community several times since the summer of 1999, when I married and felt like I needed to take control of my life after a lumpectomy. I had turned a corner in life with my commitment to my long time soul mate, Scott Howe, and we got married June 19, 1999. My grandfather, Ronleigh B. Jenkins, walked me down the isle at 97 years of age. He had character, spunk and so much pride.

I have always tried to walk in the shoes of my grandfather. They are solid soles to walk in and considering he worked at the Whitman Shoe Factory most of his life making solid shoes where years later he constantly complained they did not make good shoes anymore, I figure these are the BEST shoes to walk in. 

I differ in some beliefs of my grandfather and still we share unconditional love which is the key to all peace on earth. Over my lifetime I received unconditional love from my grandfather which helped make me a better person in the long run even through many hardships.

With each obstacle I faced in life which expanded beyond foster care, homelessness, physical or mental abuse and too many more life situations than I care to bore you with, I somehow became a stronger, more enlightened person, believing in myself more in some ways that the life event itself had actually brought out. The mystery of the Universe solved, I think… we are all on a chosen path no matter if we like it or not, but our actions and reactions are the steering wheel to how fast and easy we get through and our growth is the gasoline that powers us to keep going.

My reaction to the lumpectomy was to get healthy even though it was found to be a cyst. I was getting healthy for my husband and our children. I found the BFL way of eating and meals to work and the community’s support crucial to everything going right. I joined the BFL challenge over and over during those years, never getting past the first twenty pounds of the 80-100 pounds I actually wanted to lose. Maybe twenty challenges I might have entered, perhaps more. Each time the support of beautiful people was there. Each time, I never failed. The community felt like home.

My latest time was with Transformation in 2007.  It was as if I was sent there. It was PERFECT. Everyone was like an angel and I was able, after several struggles, to realize all the crap that happened in my life was not all my fault. Although I had known that, I had never felt it truly in my soul. I grew over a long course of time and never once did I give up, but instead flourished with the beauty of the bright souls in the community. My lack of an education even started to dissipate as I found myself able to do things or know things many college graduates could not. They even started giving me kudos and respect and I grew out of the love from them. I had an extended family. Life was perfect 

For someone who grew up mostly on her own and through the traumas of dysfunction, these “gifts” from God do not go unnoticed. The community of now Transformers had shaped my world from 1999 to 2007 in some way, shape or form. Every time, it was the people there that made me proud. They are all winners and the yin and yang of prizes or five minutes of fame seemed to always pull in my heart. For me, life is simple and we all have our own paths. My path is to follow in my grandfather’s footsteps and brighten the path with a light for my children.

My banning from Transformation.com two days before Christmas 2008 after no fault of my own was devastating. Not just to me but to my countless friends who supported me and I them through many loving days, months, and years, emails, pictures, calls, face-to-face, love shared for no profit but for goodness and for kindness …for a better world, a deeper understanding of unconditional love.

My emotions were deeper than any hurt I personally have ever experienced and my lack of support and/or understanding left me with a desperate call, a call directly to GOD. This was my plea: “God please, please, please show me any good left in this world.” That was December 26, 2008.

My pleas were heard right away as God gave me a strong sense of self.  He had prepared me for this journey, my hardest, longest journey yet. He also prepared me with friends, friends that are there until the end. Those friends helped see me through times of great sorrow and emptiness of a void that felt more like a black hole. Those friends listened to me vent on my BlogTalkRadio show, “Don’t Buy Into That” or the Soul Project, both ideas that arose from the hurt I experienced, a voice to yell back, “Hey, you are wrong.” It was a voice that many times still felt unheard. I was never really a “somebody”. I was just ME. I never really mattered or so I felt, still needing growth obviously.

I struggled through 2008 and most of 2009, not realizing my most rewarding hour was near. I had felt a failure again because even with the weight loss of 30 lbs and the Soul Project, I had become pregnant which I was personally thrilled about but afraid I had let people down. I was taking on weight loss and a vision and weeks into it learned that, at forty two years old with kids graduated, I was pregnant.

On December 26, 2009 at 9:11am, Nevaeh Noelle Howe, 6 lbs 13 oz, was born. She was born a Gift sent directly from God on a day and a time I could not have picked by chance. Again it was a sign. I went on to live my life, kind of dropping out of the Soul Project as our daughter’s needs and my healing from a c-section at forty two years old took over. Then three special needs foster children with demanding schedules ruled. My life had become unbalanced and I was not sure I would have the energy to continue.

It all then hit me like a bolt of lightning: The Soul Project and my friends could help me. I enlisted the help of Dianne Orwig as I knew I needed an overseer as I lose myself in the needs of others, something us women or caregivers are quite accustomed to. I felt GOOD, but still troubled in some ways by past events not yet healed.

I had taken to Blog TalkRadio long ago and sought out lost friendships almost like an addict looking for crack. I still needed something. Shortly thereafter I was told about the Be Your Own Oz site. I read the blogs. I felt their pain. I knew it was my own. I was not alone. It was not just me. It was ok.

The people that have passed my heart on the way through to my soul will be forever there, their footprints will remain. I have proof and I will remain living proof. With The Soul Project restarting, the addition of Nevaeh Noelle and our newest puppy, Chloe, and with Dianne Orwig helping keep me focused, I move forward.

I recently received the Julie Whitt Inspirational Award for 2010. This award was better than any prize of monies or fame ever could be. It is the ULTIMATE prize to me as it stands for CHARACTER and PRIDE and a little added SPUNK. It stands for my grandfather and all the angels I have been blessed to call friend along my path. To you all, I say Namaste and God Bless.

Love and respect always,

Laura Howe & Baby Reggie

 xox *^*

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The Accountability Contract

by Clara K. Showalter


One of the big buzz phrases these days is accountability. It’s used in everything from business to weight loss. The concept is sound. You need to be accountable for your actions. Accountable is often translated into responsible, meaning having an obligation to do something. These terms are thrown around. What do they actually mean and how are they a vital part of building a better you?

Watching the Biggest Loser on NBC often gives you some interesting snippets into the keys to helping people make deep, life long changes. Now understand we miss a lot of the moments that go on off camera where contestants work through the issues and challenges holding them prisoner in their own body. During a weigh in, contestant Jesse finally broke through the 300 pound barrier. He stood up on the podium and told the world he was promising to never see 300 pounds again. Show host Ali Sweeney asked him if he would shake on it. He said he’d shake with anyone. She walked over, looked him in the eye as she shook his hand and promised to hold him to his word.

In that moment, a contract was made. Jesse accepted responsibility for his future. He determined that he is answerable for his conduct regarding his weight going forward. He is in charge of making sure that he does the things required to make sure he stays below the 300 pound mark. On the other side of the contract, Ali stated she would hold him accountable for his words and actions. She is taking responsibility for making sure that he explains or justifies his conduct going forward.

When used together, an acceptance of responsibility and counter offer of accountability are powerful tools. Jesse now knows that if he falters in his actions, there is a person who will be there questioning him. This gives him additional incentive to stay true to his plan of action.

When I started my own journey to fitness and health, one of the most powerful statements I read came from Bill Phillip’s book, Body-for-LIFE. In the book, Bill asked if I would, “..trust anyone who repeatedly lied to you? Someone who broke the rules of the game again and again?” The answer was obviously no. At that time i5 was a cornerstone in my new foundation. Accepting that I’d been lying to myself repeatedly created a situation where I was aware of the behavior. In becoming aware of the behavior I had to accept responsibility for my conduct and actions.

Ironically at around the same time I read Rudy Giuliani’s book, Leadership. Then mayor of New York City, Giuliani had a sign on his desk with two words, “I’M RESPONSIBLE.” This sign covered his philosophy on leadership in a nutshell. Leaders need to not only accept the praise when things go right, they need to accept the blame when things go wrong. That concept was a huge shift for me. In learning to accept that I was responsible for good and bad, I gained incentive to work to solve problems and not just stand around and assess blame. Sure it didn’t help my weight loss if coworkers brought pizza into the store while I was working and offered me a slice, but I wasn’t going to make them responsible for my actions. Once I realized there was an issue it was my job to fix it. Period. That could be anything from throwing the offending food out to having a sit down with the team and explain why pizza was not something we could order in.

This concept worked in other areas outside of weight loss. When a customer made me aware of an issue, I accepted responsibility for the situation. The next step would be identifying the source of the problem and putting answers in place to fix it. If staff were unwilling to make the corrections, then more assertive action was required. In making them aware of the situation, now they were also responsible for making sure the corrections were made. My job was now to hold them accountable for making sure the corrections were properly made, just like my customer would hold me accountable.

There’s power in learning to accept responsibility and even more power in understanding what it means to hold people accountable. When you are willing to hold others accountable for words and actions you help build stronger people. None of us like to let the people around us down. That’s why workout buddies help increase workout compliance.

Several weeks ago, Bill Phillips was made aware that some members on his website were experiencing painful and harmful situations. Like a good leader, Bill stepped up and accepted responsibility for those situations and professed a desire to make amends. I’m curious if he’s actually taken the next step. It’s been six weeks, which is a reasonable amount of time to make some phone calls and send out apologies. Has it happened?

Words without action are hollow. So just like I do with my clients, I’m asking what actions are being taken to move the situation forward. If he’s delegating these actions to others, is he following up on them?

Accountability is a contract. It’s an agreement to help push someone to the next level. I look forward to hearing that Bill is reaching that next level.

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Why I Left Transformation.com by Linda Ann Smith "Getherdone"

“It takes more courage to reveal insecurities than to hide them, more strength to relate to people than to dominate them, more ‘manhood’ to abide by thought-out principles rather than blind reflex. Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles and an immature mind.”~ Alex Karras


To move forward, know where you are going!  I learned the hard way, all that glitters is not gold and every path has a puddle. However, I discovered my puddle was quicksand and I was falling deeper and deeper into a tunnel that had no light at the end of it.

During my time spent on the Transformation.com website, I met a lot of interesting, wonderful and inspiring people that shared my views, shared my thoughts and listened to my woes.  Many have become Friends-for- LIFE.  I shared many secrets, many emotions and trying times in my life.

I knew I already had a wonderful, loving life but there is always room for improvement so I joined the team and challenged myself in every respect.  I gained control of things I felt I had lost, I learned to love unconditionally, and most of all felt I was part of a team to better myself while I gave back to this community and helped others find their happiness.

For a while I was walking blindly and thought I was being led by the light. I attended the 1st Denver Convention and was blinded by the light. Everything was magical and when things seem to be just too good to be true they usually are.  In this case, though it took a while, I learned that everything that glitters is not gold.

My journey led me to feel I was a leader, an inspiration to the community, a friend and part of a TEAM. Being a part of a TEAM, being part of something greater than I was, was most important to me. Feeling that I was giving back and helping others made me feel important. This feeling of being important is something I lacked in my own world.

Along the way I stumbled across a few people that I saw as being on this team to get what they could from others, not to give back. They were there to  make themselves be looked upon as better than others. The impressions they gave was if you want to be perfect in every way do as I say, I will be your guide. I gave and gave until I felt I couldn’t give anymore and yet I would muster up more energy to give out more compassion whether they deserved it or not.

The more I posted the more I was belittled by the so-called big shots of the team. I was told to stop telling my story, that it was boring and no one benefitted by it. I was told to take my pictures down, that I had too many. Told I had an ego problem.  The very program that helped give me the self-confidence and feeling of worth was robbing me of my self-worth.  

[One incident in particular upset me] I looked up to a man that belonged to every Body for Life [affiliate and related site] Judge Michael T. Harris. I confided in Mike and he helped me along my journey to overcome my feelings of self-doubt, and introduced me to a self-help Journal by Robert S. McGee “ The Search for Significance”.   It was on this journey I really began to see the light and came out of my shell.  I felt I had grown up at last and was in control of my own destination.

During this journey my dear friend and mentor Mike Harris passed away.  The entire [Body for Life] community mourned  and [many] began challenges in the Memory of Mike. I re-posted the Challenge notice on other BFL sites and Facebook. I received many messages saying thanks for letting us know. I posted [this same information] on Bill Phillips Transformation site along with a nice picture of Mike speaking in Tennessee in 2006. I left to go to the gym and when I returned I found this message in my e-mail inbox.

From:forumadmin Date:06-03-10 Subject: post removal

Dear Gether,

We regret to inform you that your post today was removed as it is in violation of our Terms of Use.

-Soliciting and promoting a challenge to the members of this community that is not affiliated with Transformation.

5. Restrictions on Use. a.The Website is for the personal use by our users and Members only and may not be used in connection with any commercial endeavors. Illegal and/or unauthorized use of the Website, including collecting usernames and/or email addresses of Members by electronic or other means for the purpose of sending unsolicited email or unauthorized framing of or linking to the Website will be investigated, and may result in the termination or cancellation of your access to, or use of, the Website. Commercial advertisements, affiliate links, and other forms of solicitation may be removed from Member profiles without notice and may result in termination of membership privileges. Legal action may be taken by us for any illegal or unauthorized use of the Website. i. Involves the transmission of “junk mail,” “chain letters,” “pyramid schemes,” “spam,” or any other form of unsolicited mass mailing, or involves self-promotion and commercial solicitation. The purpose and intention of this Website is to provide support, encouragement and help for one another, at no charge and no expense to our users

This is just a small reminder of our Terms of Use. When you have time please scroll down to the bottom of the HOME page to visit our Terms of Use page.

While we appreciate the spirit in which this is meant; the only challenges that can be offered on the site are through transformation.

We appreciate your membership and valuable contributions to this community. Thank you for cooperation and understanding in this matter.

We wish you well and healing in your time of loss.



Needless to say I was saddened and shocked. This was outside of their terms and conditions, but that this post would be removed and not accepted for consideration because of the nature of the content. This wasn’t just “Soliciting and promoting a challenge to the members of there community that was not affiliated with Transformation.” Any fool could plainly see it as an act of kindness, a challenge to be done in the honor of Mike Harris. Mike was also involved as a member of Transformation. How sad that Transformation could not honor the man that has changed peoples lives and mentored them.

Rules may be rules, but there are exceptions to any rule, and rules were meant to be broken. It just really really saddens me when rules dominate  over compassion and common sense.

What happened to being the change?

While they said “we appreciate the spirit in which this is meant; the only challenges that can be offered on the site are through transformation, and We appreciate your membership and valuable contributions to this community. Thank you for cooperation and understanding in this matter.“ I felt very unappreciated and felt [this was] a stab in the back to Mike Harris.

This was what I thought was the last straw until I received a string of e-mail’s from a Transformation Champion that I thought was a friend. In trying to make a long story short, someone asked the reason I wasn’t on Transformation. I responded and was blasted and told someone they knew was furious when I posted [a comment] on my Facebook page. They copied that and sent it to Bill Phillips when it happened. My friend claims to have been asked about it. [She was then told] “ Linda wonders why she wasn’t named a champion. Bill saw through her BS all along, she doesn’t get it, never has, never will and [Linda] will always continue to try and hurt others.”

[I was then asked why] if I said I wasn’t coming back, didn’t like Bill or the site , then why was I logged in [to Transformation]? It was always my understanding that people were welcome to come and go. No questions asked. I was coming and going and trying to STOP and think and plan and know exactly what was waiting at the end of  my path. I was tired of walking around blindly. [Leaving] was  not as simple as putting one foot in front of the other.  

I have always believed that everything, good or bad, happens for a reason. I believe these hurt feelings and harsh words was a blessing in disguise. I was able to let go and  rid myself of the pain, stagger my way from the darkness and into the light to find that no matter how hard or how long I search everything I need is, and has always been, right here in my own back yard.

In order to move forward and continue on your journey you must sometimes STOP and think and plan and know exactly what is waiting at the end of your path. You can’t just continue to walk blindly. It’s not as simple as putting one foot in front of the other. You must know where the path leads.

To move forward, know where you are going!

In the Spirit of Body-for-LIFE,

Your BFL Cheerleader


Linda Ann Smith



Note: For purposes of readability and clarity, the content of this post has been edited. Linda has a very distinctive writing style and we wanted to preserve that.

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Our Actions Speak Louder than Our Words

One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die, and the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.  ~~Eleanor Roosevelt


I’m very careful when I speak or type.  I want to make sure that when I say something to you, when I make a commitment to you, that I’m reasonably sure that I can make good on it and you can count on me to do what I say I’m going to do. I don’t want to disappoint you, but even more importantly, I want to know that I can believe what I say. I want to be able to trust myself.

For many years longer than I care to remember, I lied to myself about so many things.  I lied about starting my diet on Monday morning.  I lied to myself when I bought two dozen donuts at Krispy Kreme on the way to work, telling myself that I was bringing them in to work to share with my co-workers. Guess where most of those ended up? I lied to myself when I purchased healthy veggies on Sunday to eat during the week, only to throw them in the trash the following Saturday because they had spoiled, uneaten.

Do you trust yourself to do what you say you’re going to do? 

I had to learn to do this and it took a lot of time and patience, but the basic premise is simple. It’s something that I first heard of from the many time management seminars I attended for work.  Even though I had heard about this for years, I was ripe for the lesson when it was presented again in Body-for-LIFE:  the Daily Win List.

Each night I would make a list of five things that I needed to accomplish the next day. Some days they had to do with my physical transformation: water intake, exercise, try a new vegetable. Some days they had to do with personal: email an old friend, tell my daughter what I like about her. Some days they had to do with business:  send out business marketing cards,  deliver referral gift. 

This next part is the important part. You ready?  Actually do what you wrote down. Yes, do it.  No matter how small or insignificant or hard and impossible it seems, do it. Then check it off and give yourself credit for doing it. Each day that you take the action to make happen what you wrote, you are making deposits in your “I can trust myself and can believe in myself” account. Over time, what you build up in that account will give you the confidence to achieve anything in your life. 

People are watching and listening to you. What are you telling them? What are you telling yourself?





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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 Transformation.com, 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 T.com 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 T.com 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 T.com 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 T.com 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 T.com 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 T.com 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 T.com 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 t.com 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 t.com 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” T.com email account, inquiring about my free weekly fitness tips.

Seconds after Bill’s email arrived, my profile was removed. The T.com 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, www.LoveLivingFit.com, 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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Transforming Turmoil into Triumph

Part Two of a Three Part Series

by Guest Blogger Dianne Orwig


Transformation #2 – THE MIND – So it’s no surprise that I was pretty excited when one day I found myself exchanging emails with the man himself, Mr. BP.

At the time, I was coaching BFLers on a popular club message board known as LeanandStrong.com using the screen name DreamDoerToo. As a way to give back to the program that had given me so much, I spent six to eight hours of free time each week giving support and answering questions.

It was pretty common knowledge among the regulars at L&S that Bill Phillips lurked out there and on occasion would post or comment on threads under a variety of assumed names, my favorite being “Kelly.” One day I wrote a really corny poem called “ODE To BILL” and posted it on the site. It went something like this: (okay – a bit embarrassing – but here it goes)

When first I heard of Phillip’s plan

The Body-for-LIFE Transformation man

I never thought I’d end up like this

With a body to die for and a life of bliss

And now it’s been almost one-full-year

My Body-for-LIFE seems so perfectly clear


Where once I was lost, wanted to hide away

Now challenge, excitement, and love fill my day

So, to all out there who aren’t sure what to do

 Trust me, I once was skeptical too

But, take it from me, it’s not hard to learn

It’s Body-for-LIFE and now it’s your turn!

When Bill noticed the poem, he sent me an email saying, “Your poem is really cute. Glad you are still feeling and looking good. Bill Phillips” From there we began chatting online and at some point the subject of books came up. Bill wrote “I’m working in my office in LA tonight on the next good book: Energy For Life,” and I said, “How ironic, I’m in my office in Florida working on my book, In The Box.”

This conversation led to months of email communication with Bill and a lot of excitement about the possibility of having my book published through his new company, High Point Media. He warned me against seeking out a big publisher, saying that he had “experienced the massive inefficiencies and ineptitudes of the New York publishing machines,” and he had the knowledge “to attract people who are looking for the messages in your book.”

My enthusiasm built as I continued to receive requests for additional chapters, and I found the positive feedback from Bill and his publicist, Jim Nagle, extremely encouraging. I worked around the clock, writing and editing until, at last, I finally completed and submitted the final chapter of In The Box. Honestly, I’m not sure I would have finished that completed first draft if it hadn’t been for the drive and push I received during the whole process.

Then, just like that, everything went silent. No more contact of any kind from Bill or from Jim. To say that I was confused would be an understatement, the whole all-to-nothing way things transpired. None of it matched up. I felt dumped… like a bad date without as much as a quick courtesy call to say it’s not you… it’s me.

Understand that it’s not that I was naïve about the publishing business. I knew going in that getting published was a one in a thousand shot, no matter what the situation. I also knew that at its best, the publishing process is slow and arduous. It was more the abrupt shift in communication that I found so perplexing and unsettling.

I spent months waiting, making several inquiries with no response of any kind. After a while I began to think that I must have done or said something wrong. What else could explain the drop to absolute zero communication? Eventually I received a form-style rejection letter in the mail from Jim Nagle. It then took several more months and numerous requests that my manuscript be returned to me before In The Box finally arrived, back where it began.

I remember sitting at my desk, staring at the manuscript wondering, “What the heck happened?” It was a strange mix of emotions. On the one hand, I felt disappointment and anger about being left in the dark. On the other, I felt an enormous sense of accomplishment. The truth was that I had set out to finish the first draft of my book and despite the mystifying and unanticipated outcome, Bill Phillips had pushed me to reach yet another life changing goal.


Excerpt from Part 3 – to be posted

Friday, October 1st

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 Transformation.com, I decided to go in and take a look. I really missed my days at LeanandStrong.com and felt this might be the perfect way to get back to giving back.

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Transforming Turmoil Into Triumph

Part One of a Three Part Series

by Guest Blogger Dianne Orwig


I have a little story to tell.

Actually, it’s not that little.

It’s a story about Transformation, not just the website by that name, but real transformation, the life changing kind. It’s a story that’s been cooking for a long time now. 

In the past few years, I’ve had a chance to step back and really contemplate what true transformation is all about.  As a success coach, writer, and fitness expert for the past eleven years, transformation has been my only focus – my specialty actually – so I’ve had plenty of time to think this one through.

Reflection is a good thing, so is timing, and I always felt confident that, eventually, the opportunity would come, in a sort of full-circle, cathartic way, and I would finally “put it all together.”  I knew that one day a pivotal moment would arrive when I could finally take a bird’s eye view of all the things that have happened – good, bad and in between – and see it for what it really is.

Happily, my friend Michelle has provided a venue for that by creating this blog and I applaud her for having the courage to begin an open dialog here, even at the risk that it could turn into a bit of a bumpy road.  But then I think anyone blogging here knows, this is not about who gets the highest approval rating. It’s not about who’s wrong or who’s right. It’s about knowledge and growth and self-discovery.

So, here I am, sailing high above the clouds, happy and ready to take that 30,000-foot view of all the things that have led me to this point.

Before I start, though, I should warn you: this is not going to be my usual 5-minute read. Those of you familiar with my writing and coaching style know that I generally try to keep things succinct and to the point. But just for today I’m going to indulge in a bit more detail than usual because I believe that, like a puzzle, if a few pieces are missing or misplaced, it can be hard to see the big picture.

And, above all, it’s the big picture view that I want you to come away with.

My hope is when all is said and done, you will see it that way, too.  So I’ll say “thank you” to those of you willing to trudge through the details with me, and to those who wish to skip the middle and jump straight to the main point, and I promise I do have one, to you I say, “God speed.” No matter how you get there, I hope that when you reach the end you will have something new to think about.


“That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” – Unknown


Transformation Part 1 – THE BODY – On July 4, 1999, Independence Day, I found the book Body-for-LIFE. At the time I was living what appeared to be a picture perfect existence: great job, big house, good kids, and a solid marriage. The truth is that it was all “make-believe.”  

Inside, I was dying.

I hated my job, my big house and fancy car did nothing to make me happy, my marriage was on the verge of collapse, and my kids were the only thing that kept me from running for the hills. I was overwhelmed, depressed, and emotionally paralyzed. I honestly didn’t know what was wrong. I just could not get happy, no matter how hard I tried.

There was one thing, however, that I did know for certain: I was powerless, or so it seemed, as long as I was trapped in my soft, pudgy, soccer-mom body, a body that was getting weaker and lumpier by the minute. I knew that before I could tackle any other problem, I had to get the physical part of my life back in order, and that’s exactly what Body-for-LIFE did for me.

In 12 short weeks, from July 20 to October 13, my body completely transformed, and so did everything else in my life.  My focus, my thinking, my mood, my health, even my career – everything turned on a dime. 

Less than two months after mailing my Competitor’s Kit to EAS, I became a certified personal trainer, quit my corporate job of seven years, and went on to become one of the top producing trainers and success coaches in Florida. As a finalist in the Body-for-LIFE Challenge 2000, my story landed in the newspaper and eventually in both the Body-for-LIFE Success Journal (Day 67) and Eating-for-LIFE (page 359). [My last name at the time was Moylan.]

This transformation left me with a deep sense of gratitude toward Bill Phillips, and like so many other followers of BFL, I attributed the majority of my success to the Body-for-LIFE program and its author. In less than 90 days, I completely re-invented myself, and I went on to spend the next eleven years helping thousands of others do the same thing, always giving credit where I felt credit was due.


Excerpt from Part 2 – to be posted Wednesday, September 29th

Transformation #2 – THE MIND – So it’s no surprise that I was pretty excited  when one day I found myself exchanging emails with the man himself, Mr. BP.  At the time, I was coaching BFLers on a popular club message board known as LeanandStrong.com, my screen name being DreamDoerToo.

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What's Next?

by Guest Blogger Clara K. Showalter


So one day you wake up and discover that the vision you had of a perfect world is shattered. The curtain is pulled back and you discover there is no all-knowing, all-seeing wizard. There’s just a man, human, flawed, and looking for something like the rest of us.

Your wizard may be a parent, spouse, or close friend. She may be a counselor, a rabbi, or your boss. He may be the love of your life, your mentor, a teacher or a minister.

Your wizard is someone you’ve trusted implicitly, someone you’ve looked to for guidance, inspiration, and answers. For whatever reason you thought them infallible. You find out now that they are all too human. You are crushed, your sense of reality is skewed. You are angry, hurt, upset, and questioning things. You find yourself asking what next?

Congratulations. You are at a threshold. In front of you is the rest of your life. Like it or not, the world is still turning. You can’t unscramble the egg and go back to the way things were. You can only move one direction forward. Life doesn’t have a pause button.

As you look for a way forward you find yourself here. So what’s the next step? How do you make it over the threshold and start moving? What’s going through your head? Why are you so unlike yourself? What’s wrong?

There’s nothing wrong with you. What you are doing is working through a grieving process. Yes, grief. Finding out that your wizard isn’t who or what you thought he was is a loss. Like any loss, there is going to be pain and healing. The good news is, this is normal.

Stage 1 of grief is typically denial. You refuse to accept what’s happening. You will look for anything, anything at all to explain away the information you’ve been given. You may state that it’s flat out impossible. You may try to minimize the situation. You pretend that it’s really not as serious as you know deep down it is. This stage typically doesn’t last too very long which takes us to Stage 2. Anger.

Be angry. It’s okay to hurt, to feel betrayed, and to question. Sometimes it’s hard to be immediately angry at the person who actually let you down. You may be angry at the person who brought you the news. This is not an atypical response. The practice of killing the messenger goes back to ancient times. Mind you in this day and age we frown on that practice. So avoid homicide and settle for a little spleen venting.

You may wonder why I’m dwelling on the anger part of the process. Simple. Our modern love-everyone society has a skewed perspective on anger. We have a tendency to try and ignore anger or try to suppress it. It’s treated as a scary thing. We forget that anger is an emotion with a purpose. It’s an outlet. People may tell you it’s wrong to be angry. It’s not. You have a right to your anger. It’s yours. Now, unchecked anger that goes on and on with no resolution is a problem. We call that rage. That’s not what we are talking about here. This is anger about a specific situation. I don’t care how long ago the situation happened, if you’ve never been allowed to work the anger out, then go for it.

You hurt. Someone you have trusted has let you down big time. It will take you time to heal. There’s no hard and fast timeline here. So let the anger out. It’s generally better to get it out and not keep it bottled up inside.

Now a couple things to keep in mind. If you are choosing to vent your anger online, remember that words cannot be taken back from the wilds of the internet. Ideally, find a safe person to vent to. If you don’t have one, try the old trick of writing a letter. Get things out onto paper. Don’t sent it. Just get it out and see how it feels. Sometimes the act of getting it out is enough to release the pressure and allow you to move on to the next stage.

Next up is typically bargaining. At this stage, you try to make deals to get things back to where they were. Classics include things like, “If I do this, then he will come back. I can be better, then she will love me again.” You will go back and forth in this stage. You are trying to find ways to postpone the inevitable. As I mentioned earlier, time moves one direction – forward. This is where you frantically try to find the rewind button.

From bargaining, you move into depression. This isn’t just a passing case of the glums. This is depression in the classic sense. You find yourself feeling constantly sad, anxious, irritable, tired, empty, hopeless, guilty, and generally just down in the dumps. Nothing feels right. Nothing anyone suggests will make things better. Things you once enjoyed now bring you no pleasure. There is no quick way through this stage. It goes in it’s own time. Depression can range from mild to extreme. If you are experiencing major difficulties coping with the depressive stage, it’s an excellent idea to seek additional professional support. A trained professional can be of great assistance in this stage.

The final stage in the classic model of grief is acceptance. You’ve moved to a point where you understand that these events have happened. You can’t go backwards. The only way to move is forward.

You are here because you are somewhere between denial and acceptance. Our goal is to help folks at any stage. If you are mad, you can be mad. If you are depressed, you can do that. If you are through to the other side, you can reach out and help those who still need to find their way.

Your story means something. You may not realize that your words have the power to touch and inspire someone. Well, I’ve got news for you, they do. So if you have a story to share, contact Michelle@BeYourOwnOz.com and see if your words can reach out to someone.

We all have a story to share.

It’s time for you to share yours.

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Do What's Right, Not What's Easy

by Guest Blogger Clara K. Showalter


My transformation started because of a lie. Really a broken promise, which is a lie to someone else.

In 2005, I made a promise to a wonderful woman named Julie Whitt that I’d fight past my insecurities and doubts and send in a completed BFL challenge packet. I didn’t keep that promise. Why? Fear. I was scared that I wasn’t going to be good enough, that I’d be found wanting, and that my words and thoughts had no value because I wasn’t a champion.

That fear has old and deep roots. It was powerful, and I justified my actions by saying I could always go back and “fix” things by sending in my next packet. Julie would never know. I put things off, and put them off again. There was always tomorrow.

On December 19th, 2005, Julie Whitt died. For the first time in my life I was facing a lie, a broken promise that I could not make amends for. And the hardest part is that now Julie knew I’d done so. Facing the reality of the life I was living, facing the reality that I was letting my fears keep me from doing things I knew were right was just devistating. I broke down on Christmas Eve at National Airport in tears while traveling home. The pain and hurt were indescribable.

I made a decision in the chapel at National Airport that I was going to change. I sent in the challenge packet for the challenge I was doing and committed to sending in the packet for the 2006 Julie Whitt Torch Challenge.

I did something important in that challenge. I set goals that were not just about me. They were about helping others. I set a goal to help several others submit their challenge packet. I also set a goal to live the life of a Body for Life Champion, giving my best to myself and others.

For me, this meant calling it like I saw it, supporting people, reaching out, and doing the right thing, even when it was hard. It may mean telling someone flat out they were wrong. It may mean pushing hard when someone didn’t want pushing. It meant not letting fear rule my life. Do my best every day, and be able to look myself in the mirror at night.

I hit those goals. I hit those goals and found peace, clarity, focus, and something else which defies explanation. I found the person I was supposed to be.

EAS recognized me as one of their top 10 finalists that year. I didn’t care. I didn’t need the jacket, or the money, or that recognition. All I needed was the knowledge that I was making a difference. That was what really mattered. I was stronger than my fears.

For three years I lived with that strength, building it brick by brick and step by step. Two years ago, things started changing. At the urging of friends I started spending time on Bill Phillips’s new site Transformation. Like most BFLers, Bill Phillips is someone held in high regard. I had listed on my Bucket List, “meet Bill Phillips and thank him.” So I was curious about what he had going on.

I wasn’t comfortable from the get go. In retrospect, that was my biggest mistake. Over the years I’ve learned to trust my instincts. When my inner alarm fires off, I listen. I didn’t. I had friends encouraging me to participate and share my words and my skills. So I started to try and fit in.

Second mistake.

Like most people who write, I like feedback. I like to know that what I write is hitting people. I discovered that my writing was having a mixed impact on Transformation. So I shifted away from my inspiring work and decided to focus on my nutrition/workout related work.

Next mistake. The positive and inspiring stuff is part of what helps feed me. It’s just one of the ways I channel my positive energy. I stopped trying to reach people that way because it didn’t seem to work. So in essence I blocked out part of myself. I started trying to figure out how to get people to notice what I was doing. Rather than walk away and say it wasn’t the right venue, I started to try and change something that worked well for me.

I made that decision, and other things started to shift up in my real world life. Work started to get harder, I started to try more to please the people I was working with rather than do what needed doing. It was subtle, so subtle that I missed it.

I did an 18 week transformation challenge because that’s what people expected. Yet as I worked through the exercises, I kept thinking…but I have transformed. Transforming isn’t something that happens constantly. Its a period of time, you pass through it. In nature things transform, then rest in that new state. Once the stimulus is removed, you are done. And as I worked through the exercises, that was emphasized. Except I kept getting asked how my transformation was going.

And my reply was the same. I’ve done mine. And I had. Like most BFLers who’ve made the changes and stuck with them I was a happy person. Yet the more time I spent on Transformation, the less happy I was. I’d shifted over to helping out with fitness and nutrition related questions. Now while I like these areas, it felt like I wasn’t using my full skill set. More over, I’d put out the information and then have others put out conflicting information. In some cases, the information they would put out was potentially very unhealthy for that individual. Yet because these folks were recognized as site experts, their information got more credence then mine did.

Mistake the fourth. I got wrapped up in I’m right, you are wrong. My ego kicked in and I started to get very aggravated with what I saw as incorrect information being presented to vulnerable populations. Transformation attracted a broad spectrum of individuals. Some of them with major medical and health issues. I was going through the process of getting my NASM personal trainer certification and knew that some recommendations were dangerous.

The problem was, there was a new vibe running through the site. The vibe was, “Be positive.” Now most places have a be nice clause in the site terms of service. This was something else. This was, “Do Not QUESTION!” People who would question the site started to get flack from various senior site members. You aren’t being positive, you are not showing a good attitude, or my personal favorite, “how’s your transformation going?”

Expressions of skepticism, blunt questioning, or statements considered non positive could bring down a wealth of these types of statements. In many cases, these were valid questions.

I grew up in a house where we were taught to question. Doubts needed to be expressed, opinions shared, and sometimes you even argued over them. On Transformation, if your doubts or arguments were deemed unacceptable, things could happen. People who disagreed with things started to dissapear. People who questioned things could end up on the receiving end of a confrontation with Bill Phillips himself. Those threads would soon vanish from the site like they never happened.

Word started going around, disagree with Bill and you are gone. So watch your step.

I should have left. Because at this point in time I knew something was wrong. A healthy environment doesn’t enforce positive emotion with threats and berating. Good leaders do not belittle and abuse those who are unable to fight back. This isn’t how you help people change. This is how you control people.

I still stayed. Not only did I stay, I kept trying to change my approach so I’d get noticed. I’d see something happen, something wrong, and I’d walk away. Don’t raise a fuss, don’t get yelled at. Every post I typed up I’d triple check because I was worried that someone was going to decide I was wrong and throw me off the site for being not positive.

I stopped liking the person I saw in the mirror. So I stopped looking in the mirror.

What I couldn’t see is that I was right back where I was in 2005. Afraid that I’d be found wanting and lacking, afraid that my words would just be thrown away.

In my own mind I was still trying to help people. But I’d totally lost why I was trying to help people. Not only had I lost the why, I’d lost my how.

Porter Freeman is fond of saying that one of the first steps in changing your life is surrounding yourself with positive people. I wasn’t doing that. I was getting a steady stream of phone calls and emails from people in pain. People who’d been bullied by Bill Phillips or hurt by the actions of senior members of the site. I had people in tears asking me what they’d done wrong. I would do my best to reassure them, then sit back and not say anything. On a couple of occasions I brought up some concerns with site staff. I was told the issues were being addressed. Funny thing, the same issues kept happening.

And I did nothing. I said nothing. I stood back and watched.

The anger and frustration bled into other areas of my life. My own business suffered. I suffered.

Eventually I just stopped logging in. I was done with being constantly scared. I was done with the constant bombardment of pain. So I just walked away. I still said nothing. That silence and fear just kept eating away at me a little bit at a time.

I didn’t even realize it until I got a chance face my fears.

I left because I was tired of watching people hurt and tired of the person I was becoming. I went back, to remember the person I am. Through a series of events, I found myself in position to do two things. To face my fear of being thrown off the site for speaking up and a chance to speak up for someone who was being wronged.

I did that and got an acknowledgment of my point and an apology from Bill. Which was something I didn’t realize I needed until I had it. My strength comes from my personal integrity. It comes from doing things which are right, even when they aren’t easy. It comes from facing fears and proving that I’m stronger.

For the first time in nearly two years, I can write without obsessing that I’m not saying the right thing. The wall I’d built around that part of myself is gone. I remember why I started this in the first place. I remember the promise I made to Julie- to live the life of a champion and give my best to myself and others. A champion isn’t just a person who defeats opponents in competition. It’s not about winning.

Being a champion is also about defending a person or a cause. It’s about standing up for others who may not be able to stand up for themselves. It’s about leading from the front, and showing people that impossible things are possible.
You do that by being true to yourself, by realizing that the power for meaningful change is yours and yours alone. You do that by being willing to demand excellence from yourself and others, and holding them accountable.

You do that by facing the truth. I haven’t been living the life I’m capable of. Who has the power to change that? Me. And it starts with a simple action. Going to the mirror, looking myself in the eye and saying, “I am a champion.”

Time to get back to work.

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December 23, 2011


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Why I left Transformation.com by MichelleT


What would you do if you were given a chance to help change the world for the better? What would you do if the person you believed was responsible for helping you change your own life gave you the chance to help others? Two years ago an amazing thing happened. Bill Phillips reached out to me and offered me the chance to share my story with others. I was offered the chance to be part of his team, to work with him and others to make the world a better place.

At first I thought it was a dream come true. It was a chance to share my story of losing over 100 pounds of fat and gaining amazing health, vitality and confidence. It was a chance to help people and to truly make a difference in the lives of others. 

Less than a year later, I sat with my heart breaking. I’d discovered that the wonderful world of Oz wasn’t what I thought it was.For eleven months I was pulled back and forth as promises were made and broken. I allowed my life to be turned upside down because if I spoke out, I’d lose my chance. I was told to just sit back, not be demanding, and wait. I watched as people were ignored, belittled, and berated and felt powerless.

With my story featured on the front page, a podcast, a copy of the book jacket with my photo on it, and in a success stories video that was to be on nationwide television, I walked away from Transformation.com. I’d been offered a chance to work with Bill Phillips, a chance to help transform the world. I didn’t know the price that would be demanded of me.  The price of my silence. Don’t question the gift. Don’t question the things I see. Don’t question him. Step behind the curtain and then ignore what I was seeing.

I made the decision to remove myself from a community of wonderful people because staying there meant I was going to have to keep doing things that I knew in my heart were wrong.  So I sat there and hurt. The dream was broken and for a while so was I. You see, I’d spent a lot of time thinking that this was what I wanted. Over the last year I’ve come to realize that it’s not what I want, and more than that I can’t want it. I could not want to be part of a place where people were scared of speaking the truth. I could not be part of a place where you had to change who you were in order to be accepted. I could not be a part of a place where people thought it was acceptable to lie to me and to others. I could not be part of a place where I had to be silent.

This is far from the story that I thought I would have to share when I originally heard of Bill Phillips, but by sharing this part of my tale, my intention is that I will once again be able to focus on the true story, my having lost over 100 pounds of unnecessary fat and gaining the strength of character to do what is right for me. It’s time to move forward and take advantage of the opportunity I’ve been given to help people learn that they can and should be their own Oz.



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