Transformation isn’t easy, but the payoffs — well, just look at those smiles.
Raquel Pryor and Ralph Walner live hundreds of miles apart. They’ve never met. Yet their stories of personal transformation share similarities. They’re both busy parents with full time professional jobs who were frustrated with their health and fitness levels, and wanted a change — from their smiles on down.
They both turned to running, to revamping their diet, and to SmileDirectClub, to reclaim their health and turn their confidence around.
“My journey was a whole lifestyle,” Ralph says. “I was pretty insecure about my teeth. Nobody ever said anything about them, but it was a thing to me. Every time I smiled in pictures or looked in the mirror, it was an issue for me.”
Ralph lives in Houston and is an energy consultant, working with commercial buildings and national chains, managing utility contracts, and tracking building-wide energy consumption.
That professional environment, he says, also contributed to his swelling waistline. A few too many drinks out with colleagues, and lunches ordered in, and he estimates the scale hit 215 pounds instead of his svelte college weight around 175.
“I wasn’t focusing on myself, I was just focusing on my career. I looked in the mirror one day and I just wasn’t happy,” he says.
“I’m not a shallow person, but toward myself I was being super shallow — ‘you shouldn’t dress like that because you don’t look fly.’ It was a mental thing for me. If I lose the weight and fix my smile maybe I will be fly,” he says.
His teeth were particularly important to him because as a child, his family couldn’t afford braces for him.
“I grew up, I paid off my debts, I’m going to treat myself to SmileDirectClub,” he says.
The aligners that SmileDirectClub sent helped not just his teeth, but his weight loss efforts, too. Since the aligners need to be removed before a meal, and then washed before returning to their place, Walner had to plan out his eating schedule more carefully, which lead to planning his meals better, too. He also started running, returning to his high school passion.
“While I was doing SmileDirectClub, I was trying to get back to fitness and being healthy,” he says. “I lost about 40 pounds while I was also getting my teeth right. Honestly, I look like a different person.”
Today, he runs four to eight miles a day around central Houston and plans meals at least four days a week. He’s had his clothes tailored so they fit him perfectly, and he walks into those commercial buildings, smiling.
In 2018, Khloe Kardashian, one of the sisters in the famous celebrity family, announced that she had shed 60 pounds after giving birth to a child. Raquel Pryor isn’t a Kardashian devote, but found her inspiration: If Khloe Kardashian could drop the weight, so could she.
Pryor, a bookkeeper in the Bay Area of California, has two children, ages 1 and 5. She’s always been self-conscious about her smile, even if her friends and family told her they didn’t see any issues. And then there was her weight.
“For most of my adult life was overweight, and once you’re dealing with a bigger problem like weight — why would I fix my smile or my hair if I’m over 300 pounds,” she says. Raquel dreamed of being blonde. Once she started dropping weight, she finally took the plunge — and ordered her SmileDirectClub aligners.
Inspired by Kardashian, and just like Ralph, Raquel started focusing on exercise and diet, joining programs that helped her track both. She realized she couldn’t work out in the house — her older child would climb all over her, and render her workout secondary. She needed to find space and time alone, which meant leaving the house. She started running.
“Running is the worst thing ever when you’re 300 pounds,” due to the pounding on your body, she says. “It hurts.” But, she says, laughing, “I didn’t say you had to like it.”
She just had to keep with it. She saw it not as an option, but a habit, a daily must-do. As she racked up the miles, her body, and her perspective, changed.
“I love running now, but it’s taken three, four years to get there,” she acknowledges. She just ran her first 5K race this fall.
And she changed her smile.
“Anyone who’s had to get dental work or braces, you can see it in pictures when they half smile or don’t really smile,” she says, citing her own self-consciousness about her teeth.
“Pre-SmileDirectClub, I had a nice smile, but I didn’t like it.” Now, she says, “I can take pictures straight on.” No half smiles for her — she beams her full pearly whites, as she jogs on down the road.