An acronym that stands for compassion, honesty, integrity, loyalty and love. It’s how Lincoln City resident Shannon Garza lives her life and how she will continue to live as she embarks on a journey toward a healthier life.
Nearly 10 years ago, Garza was involved in a major accident that left her with a traumatic brain injury, resulting in years of amnesia. She woke up from the incident not knowing her husband of 18 years, her children and not having any memories past about 10 years of age. But little by little, she began to regain her memory, thanks to the constant support of her family, as well as a little assist from technology.
“I learned what Google was and I learned I could get all the answers I wanted off the Internet,” Garza said.
After the accident Garza dealt with a bad knee that left her in a wheelchair after being told she would never walk again, and without insurance, rehab was not an option. She decided to take matters into her own hands.
“I did all the rehab myself, I just Googled it,” Garza said. “It took me about a year to get out of the chair. But I did it.”
Conquering one thing after another, Garza was faced with another obstacle: dealing with the loss of her mother. Garza said her mother had been dealing with health issues due to being overweight and after she passed away, Garza came to a realization.
“With my leg broken and my memory gone, I just gained so much weight and then when my mom died, I realized I didn't want to die like her,” Garza said. “I knew I had to do something. I Googled, ‘will somebody pay me to lose weight,’ and that's how I found Radical Body Transformation.”
Radical Body Transformation is an Amazon Prime original TV show that follows select men and women as they are partnered with elite trainers. Their transformations are followed as they get their bodies into their all time best condition, usually the payoff being a contest. Also covered are individuals from various experience and physique divisions, from body building to bikini.
Garza decided to apply and as the months passed, she did not hear back from producers.
“Five or so months later, I decided to revisit this thought, because I really wanted to lose weight and I saw the casting call had ended,” Garza said. “I decided to send the director a private message and gave him a taste of who I am and what I want and he said ‘I like your story. Tell me more.’ And that’s how I got chosen.”
Starting the Journey
To start the process, Garza had to find a gym and a trainer. But that became problematic due to the exceeding cost of her limited income. She has settled into training at Fitness 101 in Gleneden Beach through a sponsorship, and has been working with a trainer from the show via Skype.
For Garza, she knew that getting her body back in shape was not only going to take dedication in the fitness center, but dedication in her diet as well. So per the request of her doctor, Karl Ordelheide MD at Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital, Garza enrolled in the Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP) to help refine her health habits.
CHIP is a community-based intervention program that uses behavioral change principles in a group or self-guided setting, education in an entertaining style and modern adult learning tools to help participants make fundamental lifestyle changes that are proven to lower key risk factors within 10 to 12 weeks. CHIP is a disease reversal tool that disrupts and curtails the rising chronic disease rates in a highly effective manner.
Through the program, Garza met with the group three times a week and learned how to create meals via a plant-based diet and learned more about exercising methods. Now she’s feeling better than ever and it’s all thanks to Dr. Ordelheide she says.
“He’s the first person to take the time to talk to me about my diet, about my stomach, about changing the way that I eat and he made me realize if I don’t, I'm going to die,” Garza said. “I couldn’t afford the program but they sponsored me and allowed me to do it.
“They took a chance on me. Nobody's ever done that and it meant so much to me.”
Eyes on the Prize
Garza recently graduated CHIP and is now awaiting a call from the producers to begin her introductory filming. With contestants worldwide, the spectrum of when that might happen is unclear. However, Garza is already documenting her journey to a better life through her YouTube channel titled Team Shannon.
“I’ll be spending this whole year creating Team Shannon and it's essentially up to me to get people to watch the show,” Garza said. “The public votes on who they want to see win, but then it's also up to the producers and the coaches to see who has made the most radical transformation in their body.”
In addition to the life changing experience of getting her body back into shape, Garza said there's also a huge prize at the end for the winner. First place will win $150,000 and a trip, all valued at $250,000. Second place is $50,000 and a Porsche and third place is $25,000.
Garza said she’s not only doing it for herself, but for her family as well.
“Before my accident we had put a down payment on a house in McMinnville,” Garza said. “But my medical problems cost us our house and we had to file bankruptcy. We lost everything.
“We have a dream that we can have a house with an oak tree and yard for our grandchildren to play in. I’m really hoping I can win to make that dream come true.”
The Big Picture
Motivation is the driving force that allows people to accomplish goals. But sometimes finding that motivation can be tricky. For Garza, she has a slew of motivators, including her father, who is a veteran battling a rare form of leukemia.
“My dad is a huge inspiration to me,” Garza said. “We didn't have a great relationship growing up but he became my best friend later in life. I dedicate all of this to him.”
Through the support of her husband Freddy and her family, Shannon has been able to overcome injuries, both physically and mentally, as well as personal tragedies. Family comes in all shapes and sizes and for Garza, she’s found even more support from a furry companion named Tishinka.
“She’s my service dog, she goes with me pretty much everywhere and she’s been one of the best things that’s happened to me,” Garza said. “If it wasn’t for her, my husband and my children, I honestly don’t know what I would have done or where I would be.”
Although she has big dreams of winning the show and getting the top prize, Garza said she will be a winner either way.
“If I don’t win, I’ve still won, because I’m going to transform my body,” Garza said. “If you want something you've got to go out and do it, nobody's going to do it for you. I’m learning that the hard way.”