Tag Archives: weight

Conner Rensch’s Extreme Weight Loss

October 13, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Conner Rensch gets recognized pretty much everywhere—at the salon where she works as a hairstylist, when she’s running errands around town, and even when she is out with friends for the evening.

It all started with a January 2014 “Half Their Size” People magazine cover. Since then, her YouTube video has gone viral; she’s appeared on television shows like Good Morning America, The Steve Harvey Show, and Inside Edition; she’s been the subject of articles in local publications and national websites; and she’s talked about her personal journey with numerous youth and community groups.

“I never set out to be someone people would recognize,” she says. “I set out to inspire and motivate.”

Over a period of two years beginning when she was 19, Rensch lost a total of 130 pounds from her peak weight of more than 270.

“As many weight loss shows as I watched, there was never really anyone I could relate to, in terms of growing up being bullied and being overweight your whole life and not ever knowing what it was like to be in shape and be healthy,” she says. 

Sharing her story meant including the honest details as well as posting the “before” pictures and unenhanced “after” pictures.

“Initially I hesitated because it’s very personal and it comes with a lot of baggage,” she says. “When you share your flaws or insecurities—and I am very public about the way I look now—there is always going to be backlash. Stretch marks are not something that people necessarily want to see or want to share, but the reality of life in general is that everyone has things that they’re embarrassed about.”

People come up to Rensch now and share their own transformation stories or thank her for inspiring them, she says. So knowing she has given people hope is worth the occasional strange Facebook message from admirers, the razzing from her friends, or even the negative online comments like “She doesn’t need to show that” or “Why is everyone giving her so much praise? It was a problem she created.” As Rensch phrases it, “It negates the negative.”

“I never set out to be someone people would recognize,” she says. “I set out to inspire and motivate.”

-Conner Rensch

“I always think back to when I was losing weight, I wish I would have had someone to look up to or be able to say, ‘She went through hard times and so can I’…I really wanted to be an example,” Rensch explains. “I would never not want someone to come up and tell me their story…It always comes back to why I did this. It’s not for the people who have been in shape their whole lives but for the people who are struggling.”

More than five years into being slim and fit, Rensch says her goals have transitioned from weight loss to staying healthy through good nutrition and an active lifestyle. She hasn’t weighed herself in many months.

Her professional goals have transitioned, too. Her website and her public speaking messaging has become more about transformation than specifically about weight loss. A book is in the works, and she is also looking into signing with an agency to expand her motivational speaking and schedule more corporate speaking engagements.

“If the publicity was all taken away, I’m still me and I’m the exact person I want to be, inside and out,” she says. “The benefit is that I’ve helped others. I’ve never felt a sense of happiness like helping others reach their potential. It’s so powerful.”

Visit mybutterflyjourney.com for more information.

connerrensch2

BB and CC Creams

September 24, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

You may have seen the commercials with actress Kate Hudson and other makeup-brand personalities talking about their revolutionary BB and CC creams. You might also have thought, “I have no idea what those words mean.”

That’s because BB and CC creams are fairly new to Americans—or at least to most Americans in the Midwest.

The original version of what is now BB Cream was created in the 1960s by German dermatologist Dr. Christine Schrammek to protect and heal the skin of her patients. Eventually, the cream found its way into Korea and Japan in the 1980s and was advanced. In fact, BB cream became the well-kept beauty secret of many Asian celebrities. Now, however, these creams are a huge hit in practically every beauty market across the world, including our own.

Still, most people don’t exactly know what the creams are (or, more importantly, what they do). Fortunately, Joel Schlessinger, M.D., FAAD, FAACS, of LovelySkin in Omaha has the answers.

First of all, BB Cream stands for “beauty balm,” and CC Cream stands for “color corrective.” Again, these words might mean little if you don’t know what balms and color correctors do.

According to Dr. Schlessinger, BB is a multitasking cream that serves as a moisturizer, primer, foundation, and even sunscreen. CC also functions in several ways, providing the same benefits as BB but with an added bonus: color correction. For women with uneven skin tone, acne, or redness, CC seems to be the better option.

“CC creams can be very beneficial for acne-prone or oily complexions due to their lighter formulation and full coverage,” Dr. Schlessinger adds. “Investing in a good CC cream can shorten your daily routine, enhance your skin’s appearance, and prevent premature aging.”

So what’s the main difference between the two creams? “Coverage and weight,” says Dr. Schlessinger. “CC creams tend to be lighter with better coverage while BB creams are heavier and typically don’t offer full concealing benefits.”

Of course, both save you money and time. For example, one CC cream can replace foundation, moisturizing cream, facial primer, sunscreen, and concealer. Let’s face it—anything that shortens a daily beauty routine and lessens makeup expense is greatly appreciated.

Wondering where you can get BB and CC creams? Pharmacies, grocery stores, makeup outlets, skin care retailers, online shopping—they’re everywhere. Budget-friendly brands like Almay, Clinique, Garnier, and L’Oreal have begun releasing their own versions. Makeup store Sephora carries several professional makeup brands. And, of course, Dr. Schlessinger’s LovelySkin sells brands like Supergoop!, jane iredale, Stila, Dr. Brandt, Dr. Dennis Gross, and B. Kamins.

LovelySkin is located near Oak View Mall at 2929 Oak View Drive. For more information about these products, visit lovelyskin.com.

Surviving Heart Disease

January 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

As a young woman of just 38 years old, Dionne Whitfield didn’t fit the typical description of a heart disease patient. But there she was, standing in front of the cardiologist, still tired and breathless after undergoing a treadmill test, trying to grasp the news that she had three major blockages.

She didn’t hear much after that. All she could think about was that she didn’t want to become a mere statistic. That she still wanted to have a family and live to see her potential children grow up. What was going to happen to her, she thought.

One week later, in August of 2012, Whitfield was back in the hospital undergoing triple bypass surgery. Today, Whitfield is doing great, and with age on her side, she is determined to take control of her health and her life again.

Looking back, she knows now that her unhealthy lifestyle habits were bound to catch up with her eventually. At 352 pounds, she ate whatever she wanted, often grabbing fast food along the way. She rarely exercised, and she had settled for the fact that she was overweight and nothing was going to change that. She was also African-American, a population that tends to have greater prevalence of risk factors for heart disease than Caucasian women.

“This has been a big eye-opening experience for me, and I don’t want to go back.” – Dionne Whitfield, heart disease patient

Whitfield’s attitude about her weight and health has done an about-face since then. Her attitude actually started to change with several warning signs shortly before the news of her blockages. In early January of last year, she learned that she was borderline diabetic. Concerned, Whitfield began attending group exercise classes and the pounds began to fall off. Motivated by her success, she began to make exercise a priority.

Then came her second warning. In July, she started becoming so short of breath that she could barely make the short walk from her office to the car. When things didn’t get better, she consulted with her doctor, who referred her to cardiologist Edmund Fiksinkski, M.D., at Nebraska Methodist Hospital, who performed the cardiac testing in which the blockages were found.

Whitfield’s surgery was performed by John Batter, M.D., cardiothoracic surgeon at Nebraska Methodist Hospital. After surgery, she underwent six weeks of supervised cardiac rehabilitation. Whitfield exercises on her own now but is still considered in a recovery phase for the next year and follows a moderate exercise program while her arteries heal.

“Dionne has done great,” says Susana Harrington, a nurse practitioner at Nebraska Methodist Hospital, who worked with Dionne throughout her recovery. “She really owned it and became more determined than ever to lead a healthy lifestyle.”

“This has been a big eye-opening experience for me, and I don’t want to go back,” says Whitfield. She continues to work out regularly, watches what she eats, and even reads labels now before putting food in her grocery basket.

She has also lost more than 72 pounds and is determined to double that. “I feel so much better now,” says Whitfield. “I’m not breathless now, and exercising is getting easier.”

 “She really owned it and became more determined than ever to lead a healthy lifestyle.” – Susana Harrington, nurse practitioner at Nebraska Methodist Hospital

What women need to learn from this is that the development of cardiovascular disease is a lifelong process and that prevention is a lifelong effort, says Amy Arouni, M.D., cardiologist at Alegent Creighton Health. Controlling your risk factors very early in life can help prevent the development of heart disease later. This includes quitting smoking if you smoke, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, eating a diet low in saturated fats with lots of fruits and vegetables, and watching your blood pressure and cholesterol. In fact, women can lower their heart disease risk by as much as 82 percent just by leading a healthy lifestyle, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Prevention is important because heart disease is the No. 1 killer of all women, claiming the lives of approximately a half million women each year.

The main difference between men and women is that women are more likely to develop heart disease in their 60s and 70s, about 10 years later in life than men.

That’s because after menopause, risk factors tend to rise in women, especially blood pressure and cholesterol levels and rates of obesity, says Eugenia Raichlin, M.D., cardiologist at The Nebraska Medical Center. Other risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, and family history also raise a woman’s risk.

“The longer you wait, the greater the potential to suffer significant damage to the heart.” – Amy Arouni, M.D., cardiologist at Alegent Creighton Health

The consequences of heart disease also tend to be more severe in women. For instance, “a greater number of women die of sudden cardiac death before their arrival at a hospital (52 percent) compared to 42 percent of men,” says Dr. Raichlin. “Women often require more hospitalizations compared to men, have lower ratings of general well-being, and limitations in their abilities to perform activities of daily living. As a result, heart disease in women presents a unique and difficult challenge for physicians.”

In addition to prevention, women should also be aware of the symptoms of heart disease and the subtle changes in their bodies, says Dr. Arouni. “Unlike men, women’s symptoms tend to be more vague and atypical and may include mild neck, shoulder, upper back, or abdominal discomfort; shortness of breath; nausea or vomiting; sweating; lightheadedness or dizziness; extreme fatigue and/or a jaw ache that travels down the neck,” she says. “Because the symptoms tend to be vague, oftentimes, women will stay at home and ride it out.”

This is one of the key areas where women go wrong. “Getting help quickly is critical,” says Dr. Arouni. “The longer you wait, the greater the potential to suffer significant damage to the heart.”

While the development of heart disease in a woman’s 30s is less common, it does happen, especially when other risk factors are involved such as family history, obesity, or diabetes.

Whitfield feels fortunate that she and her doctors took her symptoms seriously and that she sought help early on. Now, she hopes she can help other women avoid the same fate by taking control of their health at a young age. “I feel very grateful to my family and friends and to the doctors and nurses that helped me get through this,” she says. “When you’re young, you don’t think anything can happen to you, but now I know differently. I don’t take my health for granted anymore.”