As hard as it is for me to share this personal story, it was an even harder journey for me to travel; but if this helps to keep me accountable and motivates even just 1 person to take that first step, it will be worth it for me to put it out there.
I have struggled with my weight and self esteem since I hit puberty at age 11. The numbers on the scale have gone up and down more times than I can count, and this has led me to try many different diets and exercise routines.
One thing that has been true throughout the years is that I have always enjoyed being active and I am an extremely (did I say extremely?) competitive person! During some parts of my life however, I lost that aspect of who I was.
During both of my pregnancies, I gained large amounts of weight. After my son was born, I was able to lose the weight and start running 5k's again. In my second pregnancy, I stopped being active after an impeding scare of a premature delivery and the fear of my unborn baby’s safety. I was unable to do high intensity exercise and found myself sitting on the couch more often than not. I stopped running, I stopped chasing my older son around the yard, and somewhere in the midst of gaining 60lbs, I lost myself. She did end up coming 4 weeks early, but was perfectly healthy except for a case of jaundice.
Once my youngest was a few months old (summer of 2014), I decided to join Gold’s Gym and get back in shape. I had done it before, so I figured this time wouldn’t be any different. I would come to the gym 2-3 days a week, take a class or do 20-30 minutes of cardio and a few weight machines, and go home. After a few months, I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t seeing results.
Finally, in January 2015, I decided to join my local gym's 12 Week Challenge. I figured it would give me some motivation and hopefully I could pick up a few tips along the way. I decided to try out personal training and was matched up with Marcel. I had heard that she was tough, and I was hoping it was true. Having someone there to keep me in line was just what I needed. I worked out with Marcel and an amazing group of women who I formed a great bond with. We encouraged and critiqued each other, groaned and commiserated together, and laughed along the way. Being a part of this group was what kept me going when the workouts were tough and I didn’t think I could do it. Marcel's guidance, encouragement, and tough love molded me to become healthier and stronger. I lost 34.4lbs in those 12 weeks, reached my goal of getting into the 100's again, won 1st place at my location, and placed 13th Nationally among my age group! I was able to keep the weight off for the most part and continued to go to the gym throughout the year.
Around the busy winter holiday season, in the midst of taking care of everyone around me, I stopped taking care of myself. I stopped going to the gym regularly, stopped making healthy eating choices, and stopped making myself a priority.
In just a few months, I found that I had gained back 20lbs. I was so disappointed in myself, I dreaded going back to the gym. How could I face all of the people who had cheered me on when I achieved my goal? How could I show up and be back almost where I was at the beginning of the challenge in January?
When the opportunity to join the 2016 12 Week Challenge came along, I jumped at it. I decided to take it as a chance to compete against myself. The accountability of having pictures and measurements with a definite end date made it something I could work towards without having the ability to make excuses about “starting tomorrow.”
I decided that this would be the last time I would have to lose a large amount of weight. I knew that I would have to look at this not only as a competition, but also as a lifestyle change. Starving myself and denying my body of foods I loved for 12 weeks was not going to help me achieve my goals, the weight would just come back when it was over. I wanted to lose weight, get healthier overall, and know how to continue long after the 12 weeks was over.
Marcel and I sat down together and came up with a meal plan that I could live with. I didn’t have to give up all carbs, I modified what carbs I ate and when I ate them. I increased my water intake and avoided sugary drinks, which was not a stretch because I love water. By adding more protein and vegetables to my meals, I didn’t feel like I was starving myself. In fact, most meals left me feeling full and satisfied! This was a welcome change to the “diets” I had tried in the past.
Seeing myself every day in the mirror sometimes made it hard for me to see the changes I was making. Taking pictures and comparing them weekly helped me to see differences and know that what I was doing was working. I often looked back at my pictures and compared them on days when I was feeling unmotivated or cranky.
By combining high intensity cardio with weight training, I was able to reach the physical goals I set for myself in this challenge. I even found a great bootcamp gym right down the street from me that taught me about balanced meal plans and HIIT training (high intensity interval training). I had not excuse not to get a workout in; when one gym was closed the other one had a class I could take. Now I look forward to leg day, the stair climber, and sore muscles. I block my calendar for Zumba three days a week and it takes a lot for me to miss it!
I couldn’t be happier with the way the past 12 weeks has changed me; both inside and out. Not only am I fitting into clothes I haven’t been able to take out of the closet since before I had kids, but I am also happier and more confident. I lost 44.6lbs, 23.75 inches, and 9.4% body fat! This 2 year journey has inspired me to want to reach out and help to inspire others and help them with their fitness goals, whether that be through motivational speaking or becoming a personal trainer.
I plan to set new goals for myself that include running 5k’s again, losing more weight and body fat, and setting the example of a healthy lifestyle for my family. This year the challenge was the beginning of what is going to be an awesome year and the jumpstart I needed to build a healthier, happier me for a lifetime. With my new exercise and eating habits, accountability partners/friends at the gym, and a new outlook on health and wellness, I am excited to continue this journey!
If you are unhappy with the way you look and feel, take that first step. Find a workout partner, join a challenge, speak with a trainer at a gym. No matter where you are in your fitness journey, you can make a positive change. Need some motivation? Send me a message! I'm always looking for new exercises/recipes/motivational memes and am happy to share what I have learned.