Yesterday, as I was working, I overheard the TV in the other room. The subject for the Oprah show (it was a rerun), were people who lost massive amounts of weight.

The first guest’s story intrigued me, so I got up to watch the segment.

Nancy had weighed over 700 pounds, but she was now looking quite stunning.

Oprah asked her how she did it. Pills? Lapband? Gastric bypass?


She did it with the help of a computer she received (as a present) from her sister.

Not being very mobile having the excess weight to tote around, she started spending time on the internet. She enjoyed political sites. She soon joined chat rooms, and shortly thereafter, began email friendships with the people she had met online.

Something about that online communication began to “fill her”, not with food, but with a sense of belonging. A sense of value.

Being able to “hide” behind a computer screen, no one could judge her. Like us bloggers, she was accepted for her words.

As if it were magic, something in her clicked, and she began losing weight.

She proceeded to lose over 530 pounds.

Today’s Lesson

Nancy’s story moved me.

It made me think of how we react to comments and emails. At times they could be so easy to dismiss.

Realizing that some people may be at home “crying” for help and reaching out to total strangers on the internet, made me realize how, as bloggers, by paying just a little bit of attention, we may be saving someone’s life. We may be their life line to the outside world. We may be the motivation they need to make a difference in their own life.

Our words can “fill” someone and give them a sense of value.

By “listening” to them, we may help them find hope.

Nancy’s story make me realize, blogging gives us more power than we can ever imagine.

How are you using yours?

Today’s Assignment

Make time to read the story of her weight loss, at Nancy Makin.com. It’s guaranteed to move you to think of how we treat others who visit our blogs, email us, or join us on social networking sites.

Nancy’s life was changed by the internet, has yours? How?

Since you started blogging, have you found more value in your own life?

Does blogging “fill you up?”

Photo Credit: tommy pariah’s photostream

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Look Who's Talking
  1. I feel a little shy answering this – and I don’t know why. But what the heck.

    Last year was the darkest year of my life. By far. Going online as I hid from the world was the thing that slowly but surely drew me out. I started to write in November.. started reading things that people had to say.. It helped me tremendously. I don’t know how to explain it – I am moved by the story you brought up Barb! My how I love that Oprah! Lol

    I’ve been receiving emails from wonderful people from all walks of life and different difficulties that helped me realize that as a blogger and as a person .. someone out there draws SOMETHING from the writing and I feel so blessed to hear about it

    Anyway thats my 2 cents.. 🙂

    JEMi | Tips for Life, Love, Yous last blog post..Your Q&A: Getting to Know Yourself

  2. axecityNo Gravatar says:

    I totally agree, feedbacks and recognition usually help a lot and can get someone to feel better. Anyone likes to see the result of what he/she is doing, a blogger gets it through comments, visitors get it through others interactive comments and responses, and so on.

    It doesn’t cost anything to support others by few encouraging words which may turn their life completely, however, if you still can’t find a word to say, just a smile can do it!

    axecitys last blog post..Tech support for all products in one place

  3. RobinNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara – something that really moves me about that story, apart from the wonderfulness of her recovery, is that it goes against the established wisdom that sitting in front of a computer is bad for everyone—it shows that following a passion is good no matter how it seems, and there is no right or wrong way to lead life. I liked that – thanks!

    Cheers – Robin

    Robins last blog post..Paul’s letter to the Corinthians

  4. Blogging has stimulated my intellect. It challenges me to learn more about things I already know about. It’s sort of like you never really learn until you teach.

    It has also affected how much time I spend with my family, which is the down side. But so does just about everything else that deals with the computer.

    Her story is great. The only thing is, the Internet can be 100 times more depressing, dangerous, and create anger toward you. Like you’ve posted about before, you have to watch what you say and do.

    John Hoff – eVentureBizs last blog post..Gas Prices and Product Costs vs. Service Costs

  5. VeredNo Gravatar says:

    I thought my life was full before I started blogging, but now it is even fuller.

    I try to be really responsive online – responding to comments, commenting back, answering emails, accepting friend requests on Facebook and following people back on Twitter.

    It just seems like basic decency to not snub people, unless I have a VERY good reason.

    I agree that online communities have an amazing power. I didn’t know that before I started blogging, but now I do.

    Vereds last blog post..A Sign Of The Times: As Gas Prices Soar, Gas Stations Become Creative (Wordless Wednesday)

  6. Wow, what an amazing story! I wonder how often people comment on our blogs, and we don’t realize how much they need something we might be able to offer. We have to treat everyone how we’d like to be treated. A little common courtesy can make a big difference.

    Hunter Nuttalls last blog post..Blog Profits Blueprint – Make Money Blogging (Plus, Me Vs. Yaro)

  7. MarelisaNo Gravatar says:

    One of the most basic human needs is to feel that they belong and are part of a group. A lot of people don’t get that from the “real world” (I’ve read that many people feel like they’re practically invisible). It’s definitely a good thing that they can find a place where they feel accepted and recognized in the “virtual world” of blogging. There are many bloggers, (you, Barbara, and Vered immediately come to mind) who are excellent at making people feel welcomed. I’m trying to give that same feeling of “welcomness” to my blog.

  8. Wendi KellyNo Gravatar says:

    One of my missions as a blogger and a writer is to make a positive difference in the lives of people. It is what gives me the fuel to keep writing, my passion for it.

    Her story was very powerful. Thank you so much for sharing that!

    Wendi Kellys last blog post..Focusing on First Things First

  9. NaturalNo Gravatar says:

    wow great for nancy. words can either tear someone down or build them up…how we choose to use them is up to us. either way it’s a reflection on who we are.

    Naturals last blog post..What My Clothes Reveal About Me

  10. ChrisNo Gravatar says:

    I already fill that I belong but now that I started blogging and reading many blogs, I think I’ve gain a better understanding of the human condition. Through blogging, I became exposed to many diverse and unique perspective. And since I know that other people read my blog other than my family, I have the responsibility to write what’s in my heart what’s appropriate.

    Chriss last blog post..Where Is Healing?

  11. JayNo Gravatar says:

    That is an amazing story. And I can understand how that came about.

    Yes, my life was changed by the internet. In my case, not blogging, but internet forums, though it was still feedback from strangers. I give the short version in the ‘about me’ on my blog, but basically, I had piled on the pounds to the point where it was interfering with my mobility, turned grey, acquired several health problems and my sons had left home. I felt insecure, fat, old, and unwilling to do anything very much. I became a little bit of a recluse and began to spend time on the computer. Then I found an internet forum for greyhound owners and made a few friends online, one or two of whom were Johnny Depp fans. It was a combination of things really – I watched Pirates of the Caribbean and fell in love with Jack, and my internet friends encouraged me, laughed with me, lusted with me (and talked dogs with me) and finally I was moved to start my own forum. Pretty soon after this, I agreed to meet up with them in person for a greyhound event in Delaware – and for this I needed to lose weight (to travel comfortably on a plane to the US) but that was – amazingly – not a problem! I couldn’t eat and surf Depp sites at the same time, and I suddenly found it easy to let the pounds melt away.

    When I booked that flight to meet up with these young and good looking American women, I figured it was time to smarten myself up. I dyed my greying hair red, did my nails, bought new clothes and off I went.

    Later I made UK Depp friends online who bullied me into attending a premiere – which is something I’d NEVER have done a few years earlier. I had a great time!

    And a new me was born. 😉

  12. For me, the best things about blogging – and being on the internet generally – are the communities and friendships I’ve found. I’m not at all surprised that Nancy (and Jay above) found their impetus for change in cyberspace.

    I was moved to start my blog because I felt sure that there were other souls out there who – like me – felt anxious, depressed, paralyzed and overwhelmed by their physical and mental clutter. I hoped (and still hope) that as I dig myself out, someone else might be inspired and start digging too!

    Of course along the way I’ve discovered many wonderful resources and people who inspire me every day.

    Loved this post, Barbara!

  13. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi JEMi

    When I first read your blog, my heart ached for you. I also knew that by your writings, you were helping many others. It took a lot of courage for you to share all you have, but in the process it is healing you, plus providing a resource for others in the same position. I commend you.

    Hi Axecity,

    Isn’t that the truth. If you can’t find words to say, show a smile. 🙂

    Hi Robin,

    You do bring up a good point. Many reports do confirm that sitting in front of a computer is bad for your health (lack of movement). Nancy is one instance which proves that to be untrue.

    Hi John,

    Like you, blogging and the internet stimulates my brain. I find information, then I want to know more. It makes us think and grow.

    Blogging can take time away from our own families, but if in the process we are learning how to be a better person, it can be a good thing.

    And yes, we should be careful as to what do say.

    Hi Vered,

    Snubbing people on purpose is cruel.

    I agree, blogging has made my life better too. When we know your words are helping others, it gives us the warm fuzzies. 🙂

    Hi Hunter,

    Isn’t that an amazing story? Nancy has become a great inspiration to many. I’ll bet the online friends she made will forever be in her life. How cool is that?

    Hi Marelisa,

    You’re right. In the real world often people get rejected or feel unwanted. With the aid of a computer, they can find love and compassion, and aren’t being judged, based on their appearance. That’s powerful.

    Thank you for your kind words. I feel my blog is my “home” in cyberspace. We openly welcome people in our real homes, and I want people to feel welcome in my cyber home as well.

    Hi Wendi,

    You’re welcome.

    Helping others does give us “fuel:, doesn’t it?

    Hi Natural,

    Boy, have you hit the nail on the head. Words are a reflection of us.

    Hi Chris,

    Blogging does open up our minds. I like how you reminded all of us to blog responsibly.

    Hi Jay,

    What a beautiful story. The happy ending brought tears to my eyes.

    It’s stories like yours and Nancy’s that will forever be a constant reminder for me to make time for others, even if I’m not always feeling up to it.

    Thank you so much for sharing.

    Hi Ann,

    Aren’t the communities we build great?

    More and more I hear of people, me included, who are finding that physical and mental clutter is like a weight around out necks. With blogs like yours, you’re teaching and reminding others how by ridding ourselves of that clutter, we can become more free.

    That too, reminds me of another show Oprah did on hoarders. When they helped a husband and wife rid themselves of the clutter, the woman cried for joy. They (and the audience) learned how we collect “things” as a way to feel better, or more deserving, but by looking “inside” we all have value and we don’t need stuff to prove it. That, was another powerful show.

    That Oprah, she’s a great teacher. 🙂

  14. Cath LawsonNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara – What an amazing story. I doubt whether blogging will help me lose weight (I wish) but it did help me a whole lot in the past. When I first got a computer and access to the Internet I was ill and wouldn’t go out of the house. I joined forums etc and it really did help me a lot. I went from being afraid to go out of the house to taking my first trip over to the States – and i didn’t even get shot once.

  15. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Catherine,

    I remember hearing your story too. Being afraid to go out of the house must be traumatic. I’m happy to hear that joining forums, etc gave you the courage to venture all the way to the States…and not get shot 😆

    And now you blog and fill our heads and hearts with your wise and wonderful words. That is an awesome journey.

  16. Barbara –

    Before I launched my wordpress blog, I had a blog to experiment at the blogger. I wrote an article that included this story of a woman who lost weight and appeared to share the story with Oprah. Here is the link


    It’s a very inspiring story.


    Shilpan | successsoul.coms last blog post..The Real Key to a Healthy Life

  17. Evelyn LimNo Gravatar says:

    What an amazing story that you just shared. This gives me every excuse to be on my PC….LOL!!

    Evelyn Lims last blog post..Watch What You Say To Me

  18. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Shilpan,

    My spam filter is working overtime and threw yours and Evelyn’s comments into the spam folder. I just fished them out.

    Thank you for the link. I’ll check it out.

    Hi Evelyn,

    Welcome to the BWAB community.

    That’s funny. Like you, I like having more excuses to keep blogging. 🙂

    BTW: your blog looks very fascinating. I’ll be over later to read some of your writings.

  19. Wendi KellyNo Gravatar says:


    I didn’t mention earlier that I lost almost 50pounds a few years back and my main support group was- and still is since I have been able to keep the weight off- an online group on AOL called healthy habits. The women there have been warm and kind and supportive in a way that people in Real Life often just don’t have the time or committment to do and some of us have been *together* supporting each other for years now. I think a lot of people find that for personal , soul reflection type situations, it is often easier to feel heard online. At home life there is so much rushing around, it isn’t easy to be heard. Let alone taking the time to try to talk.

    Wendi Kellys last blog post..Fountain of Beauty

  20. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Wendi,

    Thank you so much for coming back and sharing your story. It sounds like “Healthy Habits” is a fabulous website of like minded, kind and caring people.

    You’re right. In real life, others are often so wrapped up in their own situations, they don’t have the time to give others support in their endeavors. Plus, some (in our real life) will try and sabotage our goals.

  21. Hi Cousin Barbara,

    Thanks for this amazing story. Your observations about how blogging offers us unexpected opportunities to help people really hit the spot. I knew this from a previous job, but had forgotten it for now.

    Let me share my experience. Several years ago, I had a job where a co-worker and I had been handed the responsibility of editing and publishing the monthly online newsletter.

    Given the circumstances at that time, neither of us was happy about the situation. Each month was drudgery as we panicked and threw together stories and squeaked by getting the newsletter out on time. We were not happy campers.

    I think it was the fourth month where we both looked at each other and realized we were actually in a position of power. How many people have the opportunity to provide helpful information to so many people?

    That new attitude changed everything. We sat down and created goals and editorial policies so we could use our new found power responsibly.

    The results were astonishing. We had a respectable list size to begin with, but within a year we had doubled our list size. A year later we had another 60% increase.

    Barbara, you’ve reminded me that it’s all in the attitude–you’ve got to value what you are offering to others. Then the readers can easily find the value you are offering. They can even find value in things you weren’t aware you were offering.

    Thanks again, Kaye

    Kaye Swaffords last blog post..Call of the Wild

  22. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Cousin Kaye,

    Your story is a great reminder for anyone who feels posting articles for online publishing is drudgery. If we realize the power we have, we can help many.

    It is attitude, and like you said, “They can even find value in things you weren’t aware you were offering.”. I like that. 🙂

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