Near death experience, a journey back
18 April, 2002
Rugie Street was like any other street in San Jose, California, except that it was the street my Dad and I used to race on. It wasn't far from Piedmont Middle Junior High School either. And, even though I had lots of dreams like lots of children do, my real dream was to be a world class athlete. A gymnast, a track star, and even a bodybuilder, it didn't seem to matter at the time, but I knew I wanted to compete physically. My Dad knew too, that's why we raced up and down Rugie street, he was challenging me, developing me physically, supporting my real dream the only way he knew how. He supported me in everything I did. Even in Speech recitals, he wrote most of my speeches and would coach me as I recited them, another one of my child hood goals. Still, at twelve, my speech skills were being developed along with my athlete co-ordination.
When his mother died that year, I lost his support. I lost him. I don't know why. Maybe it was the way she suffered from lung cancer. Maybe it was because her death caused him to reflect on his own life. I loved her too. She was my friend and my grandmother. Hindsight is never gratifying and it doesn't make any difference. Our family life went downhill and within months my parents divorced. I lost my grandmother and my Dad the same year. I never raced up and down Rugie Street again.
My hopes and dreams seemed to disappear. The loss of my grandmother and my parent's divorce created a void and sickness within me that I would not be able to correct for many years to come. I thought that all this had something to do with me. So in order to deal with my pain and loneliness and disapproval of myself I found my outlet through food, outside I struggled with the same old feeling of wishing for acceptance, love, to achieve my dreams and goals, to be liked and thought of as athletic, beautiful and popular like the other girls, the road to perfection. Inside I tore myself apart calling myself fat and ugly. I began to gain weight rapidly over the years using food to replace the pain and sorrow I felt inside.
At 15 I found an answer to achieve some of the outward appearance I was looking for. I met a girlfriend at work who loved food as much as I did. She said let's just eat as much as we want and throw it up. So started my years of Bulimia. When I was 18 I met my husband to be, who was a good looking, avid athlete and bodybuilder, whom I spent the next 10 years of my life trying to reach the level of perfection and acceptance he thought I should be at. He was not really willing to give me guidance and show me the right way to accomplish these goals. His answer was that I should already be there. At 21 my husband was stationed in Germany on a military tour. It was here I started the quest for status, I was approached one day by the coach of the army powerlifting team whom asked me if I had ever considered weight training. Had I ever, I replied that I had wanted to with all my heart but my husband just expected me to know how. The next couple of years were spent off and on the army powerlifting team and having a baby. After I had my baby my food habits did not change and I found myself constantly fighting the battle of confusion between what I saw on the outside and what I felt on the inside. I struggled with this for many years until I found myself pregnant with my second child and going through a divorce. I decided while I was pregnant with my son I was going to achieve my dream. I did not understand the first step I needed to take was to ask myself who was I doing this for (myself or acceptance from society) so I surrounded myself with people I thought would help me achieve this status. I wanted to be loved and thought of as beautiful so bad that I was willing to do whatever it took to reach this level of perfection. The trouble was that I didn't question my values, so when people said jump I said how high. I searched for the answers by what every one else told me was real.
I was told drugs and steroids were the only way to achieve this level, so I believed what I was told. I had never really experimented with drugs or steroids before so my answer was to try whatever they suggest. What I didn't realize is that they didn't really know either. It was all about ego. So I blew up and got bigger; all I wanted was to be beautiful and thin, then I would be loved. I couldn't seem to reach this level of perfection. So I was introduced to a drug that would make it easy for me to never eat if I didn't want too. I now had brought Methanphetamine into my life and moved forward on my quest for perfection by never eating at all. I was going to achieve fitness status. I had been competing and doing some magazine photo shoots but, as fast as I achieved the status I lost it. I felt very lonely and empty inside. My passion for life began to dissolve into a darkness I could not seem to escape from. I started to get very sick; my tolerance for small circumstances in life became harder and harder to deal with. My children didn't understand what I was going through and every time I looked in the mirror I saw the image of a fat girl. The answer I found was self-destruction.
On February 13, 1997 I was given a wake up call, a second chance. I nearly lost my life due to bulimia, anorexia and drugs in which I experienced what you would call a near death experience. I, like a lot of people who have told similar stories, was shown and told I was being given a second chance to finish my purpose. I was given a gift that no words can ever be spoken to tell you how grateful I am for the chance to share my story with you. I was shown my entire future, as well as my past. I hope that my message will reach out to the people who need to hear it most. When I recovered the people I had surrounded myself with no longer understood me, nor were they willing to grasp the connection we all have with each other. So as painful as it was I took responsibility for myself and my actions. I lost my hair; I went from 100 lbs. to tipping the scale at a whopping 187 lbs. I did not like what I saw or, what I felt inside. I realized the denial, the blame, and the procrastination had to end. I needed to take control of my life. I had been given a gift, that gift was a second chance. It was about making a personal commitment to myself.
There are two motivating factors that drive us: Seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. This is the underlying picture that drives our attitudes and behaviors. A new life plan was in order. Your perception is the agent that will either hinder your growth or promote it. I needed to wake up and take a good look at myself. There was a whole world just waiting for me to enjoy. It was time for me to start really living and enjoying life. I began to look at my situation as a challenge. Many people think of change as too troublesome. They believe it's a negative aspect of life. Motivation means movement! Motivation means going places, not standing still. My real challenge was to stick to my goal. When you look at life and it's many challenges as a test, you begin to see each issue you face as an opportunity to grow. I began to make decisions based on personal growth rather than in response to fear or necessity. I realized it doesn't have to take a miracle like I was given to make a change. It takes a little faith, willingness to trust yourself and the commitment to try something new. We are destined to grow mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If you convince yourself that change is bad, you are poisoning your future. Keep in mind: "If you keep doing what you've always done, you will keep getting what you've always gotten." So I persevered. I have worked very hard to learn to love and accept myself for who I am on the inside. It has not been easy; it takes hard work! It takes allowing yourself to be human. It takes knowing that you are able, possible and willing. I would tell myself I could be victorious over weight or anything else in life. It has all been done one step at a time. My dream is to be a true role model to women and children and help people realize that anything is achievable at any age when you create from your heart and believe in yourself. When you are ready the teacher will come. The teachers have come one at a time.
I would like to give thanks for the moment my dear friend George Snyder, founder of the women's Freestyle Fitness System, came into my life and took the time to educate women on how to train like a woman, so that I could pass on the knowledge to other women and help them accomplish their own dreams and goals. So I ask you all to take a moment to look into your hearts and understand we are all at different levels of growth. What example do you wish to represent in society? If you were to leave us today, did you accomplish what you set out to do? So here I am, Sherry Marie Gideons, finally here again 5 years later. I lost 70 lbs last year and competed in my first all natural bodybuilding show in which I placed first in the Ms. Fitness model search and won the pro World Natural Ms. Figure 2000, along with many other dreams and goals. I have finally learned to be myself at all costs, to trust my higher power to guide me in all circumstances and to surround myself with light like people who are stepping out to take up the important mission of role model in the next millennium to help create a world of unlimited potential full of love. I have recently started my own Outdoor Obstacle course fitness camp that targets all levels of fitness and brings a variety of fun and challenge to the spirit. On this site, I have also included a document I wrote for my entry back into the fitness industry that shares deep down in my heart the message I am wishing to open societies eyes too. I am most grateful that you read my story.