Fitter, Stronger, Healthier: one mom’s journey in overcoming health setbacks and a life-long battle with weight.

This week, Heather talks about the loss of her stepdad and the turmoil it created in her life

April 11, 2013
Fitter, Stronger, Healthier: one mom’s journey in overcoming health setbacks and a life-long battle with weight.

You may think quotes and sayings about life being short and appreciate people while you can, may be untrue and sappy but I lived this in real life last year. The date May 18, 2012 will forever be marked in my mind as the worst day of my entire life. I woke up that day like every other ordinary Friday. Took Xavier to school and was hanging out with London doing laundry and other household chores. I usually work on Fridays, but on this particular Friday Erik was in the UK for the Bodypower Expo so I was off work.

It seemed like any other normal day… until I received a phone call that would forever change my life. My sister called and asked if I had spoken to my mom, and as I went to tell her no I could tell something was not right. She then proceeded to tell me that my stepdad had died that morning. I instantly felt like I went into another warp or something. It didn't seem real, or even right for that matter.

I completely lost it. I couldn't breathe or even think straight. All I knew was that I had to get to the hospital. The whole drive there all I could do was think about how the one person who cared for me all my life, the person who was a huge part of my world, was no longer here with me. How could God have taken someone so special to me so soon? When I arrived at the hospital and walked into the room where my stepdad was, I saw my mom draped over him, holding him. I felt numb. At 44 years old, my stepdad laid there lifeless. All I could do was hold his hand and cry. My heart was and still is, so heavy.

I stayed at the hospital as long as they allowed me. On the drive home, I tried to reach Erik to break the bad news. As I sobbed on the phone with him, trying to explain what had happened, we both decided that we would wait until he arrived home to tell the children. It was very hard for me to pretend all week and to go about my days with the children acting as though everything was ok. Children can sense things. But I tried to keep them busy and to stick to our normal schedule.

The very next day Xavier had a baseball game, we went to the game and he hit his first homerun. I couldn't help but think my stepdad was there with us guiding him. What a bittersweet moment. My stepdad was Xavier's biggest cheerleader beside Erik and I. He loved my kids so much and they loved him more. My stepdad was also Erik’s biggest fan. In fact, with Erik’s guidance, he had recently started lifting weights again! He owned every t-shirt, magazine and piece of bodybuilding paraphernalia with Erik’s name on or in it! I know that when Erik stood on stage in 2012 my stepdad was right there beside him.

When Erik arrived home from the UK we told the children. I never imagined how tough that was going be. Xavier cried and London was only two years old at the time so she really didn't understand. We spent the next couple days preparing our goodbyes. Losing my stepdad, the man that raised my sister and I, the man that may have had his flaws but loved us as his very own since we were little girls, changed me forever.

In the months following his death I remained strong for my mom, but as time went on I started to unravel. I became weak, and for the first time in my life I cried out for help. I began experiencing horrible panic attacks, and my anxiety levels were at an all time high. I became numb to my family and the world. The entire experience was absolutely horrible. I finally had to go to the doctor and asked for help. Now, I am not normally one to take medicine, but I knew I needed it to help me get through. Not just for my own sake, but also for my family’s sake. They needed me! This was also a turning point for my weight and health. I knew I had to get my crap together so I would never have to make my family go through another loss of life simply because I was lazy.

I am here to say, if you are experiencing depression or anxiety, please talk to your doctor and get help. And, if you know someone that needs help, be a listening ear. You never know how much a conversation can help someone. So here we are today, I am in this for the long haul. Although I’d like to say I'm doing this just for me, a big part of me is doing this for my family and for my stepdad. I dedicate this blog to my stepdad, Jon Baier, may he be forever in my heart!

Heather Fankhouser