September 21, 2011

With thanks and gratitude

Strolling in San Diego. Eric Coover, Byron, Marina, Jim & Kathy Coover (co-founders of Isagenix)
I love this photo taken of us with the Coovers.  Here Byron and I had the opportunity to personally thank the Coovers for their generousity for paying for our airfare and accommodations on top of the already generous prize money.  We so appreciated the opportunity to go to San Diego and to take in this event.  It was life-altering.  And to think I almost didn't even make it to San Diego. 

This photo represents a happy ending to a very tumultuous start.

The little known behind the scenes events  prior to this week.  One month earlier the phone rings.  The callers tell me I have won First place for the Women's Age 50+ for the Isagenix Isabody Challenge.  I was speechless. It all sounded so exciting. And then, after I  hung up .... reality set in.  Recovering from being agoraphobic (fear of being in public places) panic attacks, anxiety attacks, debilitating obsessive compulsive behaviour and all the rest of it, I was thinking how am I going to manage airports, airplanes, people, large numbers of people, cameras, hotels and staying away from home.  This whole thing was loaded with potential "triggers" for me. It was a veritable landmine of triggers. Crying.  Upset.  Anxiety going through the roof, I told my husband I am not going.  Emphatically.  Not going.

Less than  24 hours later .  I wasn't feeling so great.  This progresses to pain so intense I was writhing on the floor delirious with pain.  Sick. sick. sick.  I thought I was having a really bad anxiety attack. Finally... ambulance... hospital and emergency surgery for a gangrenous gallbladder.  Yep gangrene.

I was given very strict instructions. I am not allowed to do anything for 6 weeks.  NOTHING.  6 weeks!  And the trip was in less than 4 weeks.  I am thinking people have gall bladder surgery all the time, what's this 6 weeks business.  (Well, apparently when things get to the point of gangrene, that involves trickier surgery, a longer hospital stay and a longer recovery time.)  RATS!!

A short while after surgery I was getting acupressure.  Rosemary, working her magic touch, told me the gall bladder represented control.  I started to laugh.  I am a control freak!!!  I am forever trying to control everyone and everything.  Isn't it interesting that when things were so beyond my control, winning the prize, and having other people in control of booking flights, booking hotels, planning my schedule etc.etc. within hours of hearing this news, my gall bladder packs it in.  Coincidence??!??  (Oprah  says there is no such thing as a coincidence.)

Meanwhile, my husband, inspired by what he has read about the upcoming celebration event in  San Diego, has declared he really wants to go.  Me, I 'm thinking ... nope.  Not going to happen.

So now, not only am I recovering from surgery, but things start to percolate within, and I am being triggered on many different levels regarding previous trauma that occurred in my past, resulting in counseling sessions and other appointments.  I was working through some BIG issues.  In fact one issue was my deepest issue with my worst shame.  It was huge. 

But here's the thing.  I worked through it.  It was such a relief to finally deal with it.  A huge burden was lifted.   Prize money aside, I am forever grateful for winning this trip to San Diego for  the enormous healing opportunity this provided me to face my stuff and move forward.   It was extraordinary.  You can't put a dollar amount on that kind of healing.  It is priceless.  And here I thought I started Isagenix just to lose weight.    Who knew.

P.S.  It wasn't until only a few days before I was supposed to leave that I actually thought, okay I can do this,  I am going. (Byron almost went on his own.)  And am I ever glad I did what I needed to do to get myself through what I needed to work through, to get myself there.    I was so outside my comfort zone.  It was truly a case of feel the fear and do it anyhow.  And I did it.  Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

September 20, 2011

What the heck!? I am not a jogger

I have been noticing lately that I am full of energy these days.  I mean BURSTING  full of energy.

I was getting ready for my weekly Isagenix meeting and I was thinking I need to get outside to get rid of some of this extra energy. I felt turbo-charged. I thought I will go for a quick walk.  Get some fresh air and exercise.  Enjoy the beautiful afternoon.  Our quick walk is 4 kilometers down the seawall and back.

I am a walker and a hiker.  15 kms, 20 kms,  25 kms.  No problem.  I love it, love it, love it. Jogging? Mmmm .....Nope.  Not a jogger.  Not even close.  Not even once around the block.

So I am starting my walk at a fast clip, and thinking this is just not doing it for me.  It's not fast enough.  So I start jogging.  I know .... seriously?!?!  Me?! Jogging ?!  HELLLLLOOOOO!!!!  What the heck?  I am not a jogger.  Since when do I go jogging because I want to. 

I tell you since starting "Product B" with Isagenix, I have so much energy.  Yesterday I hopped on my bike after dinner and cycled 50 kms for an evening ride to get rid of my excess energy. (Cycling is normal for me.)  But jogging. What's next?

For more information on "Product B click" on  

September 19, 2011

Is this the same person??!?

It is hard to believe, that both of these photos are of the same person. Me.

This rare photo (left) taken October 2010 reflects how I felt and looked after the breakdown and being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; Panic Attack/Anxiety Disorder; Severe Depression; and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  I was a wreck.  What you don't know is this photo was actually 3+ years after the breakdown, and I had made significant strides in my healing process and recovery.  Yikes!!!  Yes I actually looked and felt worse than this.  Hard to believe.

This next photo (right) taken August 2011.  I continue to make huge progress in healing and recovery.  My goal is to get myself ready to get back to work. So I continue to work with  my trauma counselor to work through the "triggers" of the previous trauma, to learn more coping and managing strategies.  As well the "brain training"  (working with the neuroplasticity of the brain to create new neuropathic networks) has been a pivotal and key element of my treatment and recovery.   For more information about braintraining contact Dr. Susan Simpson of Valentus Clinics in Victoria. (phone number 250 590-5090) website 

September 17, 2011

FLASHBACKS! Mentally and Physically I was Plummeting

In 2006 a former neighbour reappeared in my life.  I started to get flashbacks of previous trauma that occurred in their house.  Prior to this, these memories were completely removed from my conscious memory.  I had no idea, not a clue,  that any of this stuff had happened to me.

The flashbacks triggered a nervous breakdown.  In 2007 I was diagnosed with: complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; Severe Depression; Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; and Panic Attack/Anxiety Disorder.  I shockingly gained 90 pounds and ballooned to 230 pounds.

I was unhealthy.  Unfit. Obese.  I became agoraphobic ("abnormal fear of being in a helpless embarrassing, or inescapable situation characterized esp. by avoidance of open or public places.")  I didn't leave the house.  To leave the house I was prone to anxiety attacks and at times full-blown panic attacks.  I started to stutter.  I could barely function.  I became suicidal.  I was declared "an invalid" by one specialist and given a lousy prognosis.   Mentally and physically I was plummeting, FAST.

Dressed & recovering yet still sad & slumped
Metaphorically speaking, I became catatonic.  In my pj's, unkempt, I  would just sit and stare out the window all day long.  Other days I would sit and cry.  Everything was beyond what I could do.  My parents came up to my place 3 times a week to do my dishes.  I could just not function.

At my worst, my life was chunked down to 12 hour segments.  My goal   ..... to be alive in 12 hours.  That's it.  To heck with anything else like brushing my teeth, or combing my hair.  My life was.... just be alive in 12 hours. Take the next breath and breathe.  Just imagine what that must be like to be in that kind of despair, and the enormous impact on all of us.  I cannot even begin to explain the magnitude of the darkness and  stress.

My children, are the reason I am alive.  As much as I was contemplating suicide, I kept thinking how crappy that would be for my kids to live the rest of their lives knowing their mom had committed suicide.  So I took my next breath.

A pivotal moment.  In one doctor's report I was declared "an invalid".  I told my husband  I have 2 incredible kids, an amazing husband, and a life to live.  I refuse to accept that for myself.  I vowed to overcome.

September 16, 2011

Isagenix "Celebration 2011"

August 2011. Isagenix "Celebration" 2011. If ever there was a week that was life altering, this was it.

Being the  First Place Winner  for the Women's Age 50 + category, in the Isabody Challenge, I won $5,000 as well as airfare and accommodations for 2 to San Diego for their annual conference.  It was unbelievably amazing. 

I would highly recommend the Isabody Challenge for those who want to tranform their bodies and win some great prizes for their efforts.  The Isabody Challenge is a way for Isagenix to acknowledge participants for their results and successes.  The grand prize is $120,000!!!!   How great is that?!!

My first day in San Diego as the Women's Age 50+ first place winner, sitting here with the make-up artist (who was absolutely delightful)  prior to our photo shoots.  All the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners started first thing in the morning with a reception and rehearsal.  A fast paced, full schedule followed with make-up artists, photo shoots, numerous outfit changes, judging, more interviews, more make-up, and video shoots.  It was really exciting.

Marina and Eric Coover, son of Kathy and Jim Coover, co-founders of  Isagenix.  Eric was a great host for the Celebration event.  Funny and personable on stage.  Everyone loved him.

 Jim Coover  and Marina at gala event

Jim Coover, Marina and Eric Coover at the gala

Dr Michael Colgan (dynamic speaker on stage)
Marina, Shelly Panucci, and Dr. Colgan's wife Leslie

Here we are. The lovebirds.   Byron looked so amazingly handsome in his tux. 

Marina and John Anderson (Master Formulator of Nutritional Suppplements and founder of Isagenix).  In the background right top of photo is Dr. William H. Andrews world's leading researcher on Telomeres (Nobel Prize-winning research on telomeres and aging).  For more info on "Product B" and youthful telomere aging click on 

Marina, Rick Despain, Vice President of Field  Development for Isagenix, and his lovely wife at the "Super Heroes" party.  "Superhero" he was when he introduced me to Sarah Rodriguez, Vice President of Childhelp, and the result is I was able to set up a Canadian Chapter for Childhelp.  I will be raising awareness and funds for this truly worthy cause by cycling across Canada in the summer of 2012 with my family and road team.

Movie Stars?!?!  Celebrities in our own way.  Arlene, Marina, Siv, Meaghan, Kelly and Kari-Lyn.
The Happy Couple.  Marina and her wonderful husband, Byron.   I have to tell you, Byron is the most amazing man.  Without him, I would not be where I am at today.  He is also one of my "superheroes".
Byron, Jimmy Smith, Marina at the gala.
Jimmy is the top income earner with Isagenix.
He was a butcher.  As I understand it, got injured at work.
Looked for another job.  Started Isagenix and is an amazing success story and inspiration.

About Me

Marina Bakker-Ayers
My story is about overcoming adversity.  By sharing it I wish to make a difference for others who may have experienced something similar.

I am an avid cyclist, mental health champion, mother, wife, creative gardener, outdoor enthusiast and Isagenix success story.

I am recovering from mental illness.

I am creating goals for thriving, not just surviving.

First Place Winner Women's Age 50+ Isabody Challenge 2011

Before: October 2010

Prior to Isagenix it took over 2 years to reduce 9 pounds.  Then I started Isagenix. Incredible results. The weight literally was melting off my body.  Unbelievable.  In the first 12 days I shed 12 pounds.  From October 2010 to March 25, 2011 … reduced 47.25 inches and 48.5 pounds.  June 2011…   60 pounds and 63.75 inches.   As of Sept 2011 I have shed 78 pounds with Isagenix.  Isagenix has changed my life.

Through serious illness I gained 90 pounds and ballooned to 230 pounds. Physically and mentally I plummeted. At one point I was declared an “invalid” by one specialist and given a lousy prognosis.  I could barely function.  For years, my husband had to do everything.  Cook.  Clean.  Shop. Carpool.  Parent.  Work full time.

Cameras, flashes, picture taking would set off anxiety attacks/panic attacks. So pictures of me during this time are rare. 

A pivotal moment, was when my daughter, reluctantly and timidly told me (only because I pried) that she was embarrassed by my weight.  I wept.

After: June 2011
Meanwhile, her prom was nearing.  My goal … to have prom day photos with my daughter.  Photos to be proud of.  I had serious work to do. 1/. To be able to have my picture taken in public and to not panic (lots of ‘brain training’ and trauma counseling needed). 2/. Reduce my size, so my daughter could be proud.

On June 4, 2011, I was able to have prom photos taken with my daughter. It was a great day.  I wept… with joy.

I went from being unfit; unhealthy; obese; in extreme discomfort; plagued with many health concerns to being healthy, fit, slim, and virtually discomfort free. I am a completely different person.  Isagenix is a HUGE part of that transformation. Where I once could barely walk around the block, now I cycle 110 kms/day regularly.

From size 20 to size 8 (August 2011)
My goal is to win the Isabody challenge and use some of the earnings towards a bike trek across Canada in 2012 to increase awareness about the stigmas around mental health issues as well as bring awareness to Childhelp (an organization that helps abused and neglected children).  This will be my wildest dream come true, to make a difference for others and to cycle across Canada.  This would not have been possible a few years ago.  

I feel great.  I look great.  People tell me I “glow”.  My confidence is building.  My self-esteem is growing.  Thank you Isagenix!!