Shelley Rafilson – Singer/Author

Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes

I always wanted to be thin and to be a successful singer.

My weight problem began in childhood. Most of my life I have been either chubby or obese.

What made you decide to finally realize your lifelong dream?

Due to health problems, and being middle-aged and on medications that can cause weight gain, it was even more difficult, but I was able to successfully use my positive mindset to lose the weight on my own and it gave me the confidence to pursue my dream again.

After losing 100 pounds, people that I knew kept asking me how I lost so much weight. I wrote a step-by-step guide, an ebook/book, 100 Pounds to Happiness!, to share my journey, including how I mentally prepared to go on a diet.  I had to have a positive mindset and attitude to get ready and psyched up for it. I knew it would take a lot of time, but I put blinders on so to speak and kept going, no matter what was going on in my life, happy or sad occasions.  It took over two years to lose 100 pounds.

The ebook/book is dedicated to my beloved father, to whose loving support and inspiration helped me in my journey and success, as they always have and will continue to do throughout my life. My story was featured in Healthmonitor at HOME Magazine, Spring 2015 Edition, one of the nation’s largest and best award-winning consumer health and wellness publications sent to over one million homes. It will also be featured in the February/March 2016 Edition of Neurology Now Magazine, an award-winning, doctor approved, official publication of the American Academy of Neurology. Also featured in the book I Survived. Now What?: Finding Meaning From Loss. Had I not had the confidence, belief in myself, been my own best advocate, and had a positive attitude and mindset, I would not have written a book to hopefully help others and to have been featured in these publications or be on your inspirational website..

As far as my background goes, my mom passed away when I was five and my grandparents and my father raised me.  I used to stand in the bathroom, turn on the lights, look in the mirror and pretend I was singing holding my toothbrush.  I knew since I was a child that singing was what I wanted to do.  I had a good childhood but always had a weight problem. My singing career had to wait as I was uncomfortable pursuing my dream although it shouldn’t have mattered, we’re the same person no matter what weight we are.

In adulthood I did pursue my singing career when I had lost weight for a while but then I had to put it on the back burner due to finances and my health.  In my mid-fifties I would carry my CDs in the back seat of my car because my father, who was my biggest fan, wanted me to have them with us when we went out because he wanted us to be able to give them to people in thanks for assisting us.  Due to my health reasons I was no longer able to push my father in his wheelchair into appointments and errands without assistance.  Even when my father was in the hospital, he wanted my CDs nearby to give to people to thank them for their help and also because he loved my music.  It was very kind of him and I was always touched.  My beloved father passed away last year, but before he did he made me promise not to give up. ‘You are going to make it…don’t you ever give up,’ he would say.

I am doing that again now, pursuing my music, sending out CDs in hopes of getting performance work, and singing for television and movie themes and commercials.  This has been my dream since I was five years old.  I had won the World Championship of Performing Arts, winning first place in all four categories I competed in, in my age group for the U.S.  Thirty-two countries from around the world were represented and it was an honor to win this prestigious international contest.  I sang country, R&B/ contemporary, Broadway and religious music.  I was featured on FOX News three times and sang on The Arizona Morning Show.

What were the specific obstacles that you faced?

When I was comfortable with my weight, finances were my other obstacle.  If I had the finances I would have continued to pursue my dream a long time ago.  When I could, I spent a lot of money getting CDs made, including pictures, inserts and shipping charges which were expensive.  I did a lot of research to mail them out to people in the entertainment industry and had been trying for years, hoping someone would give me an opportunity.

My voice is unique, to me I have a great voice. It’s hard to admit it because I am humble but you have to have confidence and believe in yourself and I do, to succeed.

What helped you get through them?

Faith.  I had a lot of health problems and I was helping take care of my elderly father who wasn’t well himself, who lived in assisted living.  I wanted us both to live and be happy and have as normal life again as we could.  I learned that no matter happens you find another way and you keep going.

Hope.  I had volunteered for Make-A-Wish and helped rescue animals. I wanted to give back as much of my life as I could and I remembered to continue to always do for others, as my father had taught me.  Hopefully through my ebook/book and my music I can continue to do that.

Were there people that tried to discourage you?

People generally don’t want to discourage you, however some people want to hold you back because they are not happy with themselves. I had a food addiction most of my life. I called on my past experiences and successes to help me now only I changed and modified what I had done in the past to finally achieve lasting success and it worked with more going against me than it ever did before.  Thankfully now my health has also improved.

There is a belief that when your body is older, it’s OK to be overweight. I don’t go by that belief. Just because you’re older, you don’t have to be heavier.

I don’t pay attention to the people who say that because I’m older I have no chance at a singing career.  I remain positive.  When I got down to a normal weight, ironically a few people thought I looked too thin because they had seen me heavy for so long and they weren’t used to seeing me at a normal weight.  In actuality, I was the average weight for my stature.

How did you feel when you finally accomplished your lifelong dream?

Keeping the weight off became important to me.  It is hard to lose weight and even harder when you are older and I didn’t want to go through it again and I realized dieting a lot isn’t good for you, and being older one has to especially watch their weight and health.   I felt great with renewed confidence to continue to pursue my lifelong dream of singing again.

What advice would you give to others contemplating finally living their dream?

If it’s that important to you, you owe it to yourself to try it.  Don’t look for excuses.  There is success in trying.  At least you know you tried.  If you don’t try, nothing happens.  If you try, at least something will happen and you would have made the effort. ‘Nothing changes if nothing changes.’

We’re all getting older. I hope that a miracle happens in my singing career.  I do have a great voice, I wish that I had been less afraid and put more into it than I did when I was younger but I can’t go back, I have to move forward and I am, with faith and hope for better health and continued success.

To read an excerpt from her book, 100 Pounds to Happiness!, click here. Hear Shelley sing here.


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