It all began in 2010, when my daughter Kenley was born. I had gotten my weight off after Zoey, my first, but not with Kenley. I was steadily gaining weight, yet had no desire or motivation to do something about it. I figured there would be time for that later in life. And then Axxton came, and so did more weight. Before I knew it, I was 60 pounds overweight and miserable.
Miserable. That's a word we can park on for a bit. I was miserable. I hated myself. I hated what I saw in the mirror, I hated what I had become and I hated that I had no idea what to do about it. I would get up each day and think to myself, "Today is the day I will make a change", only to be derailed just an hour later after I had not given myself time to eat breakfast and decided to eat a cookie instead. Wait. Let me be real. Not A cookie.....cookies. I failed. Everyday. At the end of the day, after having a "reward" for my emotionally miserable day, I would look at myself in the mirror and, once again, hate on myself for the mass amounts of failure over the course of the day. I failed to eat healthier, lesser portions, and I failed to find initiative or energy to play with my kids. I was miserable because in every way, every day, I failed. I hated myself.
Hating yourself isn't good for a marriage either. My husband and I were recovering from a rough place in our marriage and an element of mistrust snuck in. Corey would tell me I was beautiful and I simply didn't believe him. I didn't trust that he thought I was beautiful. I thought he was lying when he told me he loved me; I simply wasn't worthy. And intimacy; well, how can one truly give herself over to her husband when she didn't think what she had to give was worth the taking? My misery had crept into every facet of my life: my self-esteem, my marriage and my relationship with my kids.
It was a pivotal moment with Zoey, my oldest, that I realized that I needed to DO SOMETHING! She was getting dressed for the day and came into my room to ask, "Does this outfit make me look fat?" For me, it was a hand-to-the-forehead "WHAT HAVE I DONE!?" moment that made me realize that my insecurity and hatred of who I was had been creeping into the mind of my 6 year old daughter and causing her to ask questions no girl should ever ask! It was time for change.
My wheels were turning as to how I could make this happen. I had dieted successfully before and lost 30 pounds, but for some reason, I knew that diet was not going to get me where I needed to be. It was then that I had the epiphany: if I were to ask every doctor across the country what I needed to do to become healthy and lose my weight and keep it off, they would all say the same thing....diet and exercise. I knew I had to make a change and I knew it had to be done the right way.
I began racking my brain on how I was going to incorporate exercise into my life in a way that it would fit in with my family and me being a stay-at-home mom. I started by buying a Zumba DVD set. And I actually did it.....for a while. I also started tracking my calories consumed daily. And it helped.....for a while. And then I fizzled out. I needed something more than busting a move in my family room.
Our local community health club had child care. Kenley and Zoey were in school, Zoey all day kindergarten and Kenley had morning preschool 4 days a week. That was my opportunity! And as far as Axxton was concerned, it was a perfect chance for socialization and time with other kids. I finally had my answer!!
I joined at the end of December, 2011 with the intention that I was going to start right away.....and I did. I joined on a Friday and I hit the gym that next Monday starting with a meeting with a personal trainer. I weighed in at a whopping 195 pounds and 41% body fat! The fitness trainer did not sugar-coat things for me, noting that it had taken years for my weight to pile on, it would be a long haul to get it off. I knew she was right and I was ready to do the work.
I started slow with 20 minutes on the stationary bike or treadmill and maybe, on a good day, 10 minutes on the elliptical. After a couple weeks I worked up the nerve to try some classes, Zumba becoming my favorite. After 2 months of working out, mostly cardio and some classes here and there, and reducing my portion size, I dropped 10 pounds. I was happy with my results, but I wanted to continue and I knew that if was really going to get anywhere, I had to do more. The problem was that I had no idea what to do next! Opportunity came knocking when the gym began advertising a Fitness Challenge, a competition similar to Biggest Loser. It cost approx $150 to join and my gym accountability partner was willing, maybe even pushing me a little, to do it with me. It was a huge step for me and a scary one! I was putting my weight loss, and personal insecurities, into the hands of strangers. I was becoming accountable to others for my workouts and who knew what those workouts were going to look like as they would be designed by a trainer dedicated to our team.
I took the plunge and signed up for The Fitness Challenge. Thank God for my friends who encouraged me to do it with them! The first meeting came and I was a nervous wreck! I had no idea what our trainer would be like and upon first sight, I saw a skinny athletic girl in a foot injury boot....she's active, small and has no weight to lose. She's never been where I have been! But then she started talking. She was empathetic, energetic and let us know that she was once 198 pounds and had done the work that she was asking us to do! She had my attention and my willingness to do whatever she ask of me. I was all ears! She put us on an eating and exercise plan and we did our initial testing as benchmarks for our levels of fitness for the challenge. I went home exhausted and wiped out!
The next day, still feeling tired from my workout with my new team, I began to feel worse and worse. I felt like I had no energy and I was so tired! I tried to sleep it off, but woke the next morning with a fever and feeling even worse. A trip to the doctor's office and a diagnosis of walking pneumonia and bronchitis landed me in bed for a week and absent from the gym for two! My trainer was there for me the whole time encouraging me that weight loss was 80% what I put in my body and that I was still able to do my best, even while sick! It would have been so easy to give up and throw in the towel admitting defeat when my team was working out without me and forging relationships, but my teammates were anxiously awaiting my return.
I learned so much during that challenge. My coach/trainer held my hand every step of the way, dedicating hours of time with me hashing out my eating habits, eating emotions and how I could turn thoughts of food from "emotional crutch" to "food is fuel". She text my team everyday asking what we were struggling with and how she could help us overcome it. She took our defeated moments and turned them into opportunities of learning how to succeed next time by encouraging us that today was just a day and that tomorrow was a new chance for success. She turned my thinking from "I have failed" to "try again tomorrow". She pushed my team to levels we never thought we would reach and helped many of us to finally begin believing in our abilities to succeed! I can't say enough good about my coach. She is a blessing to my life straight from God and she instilled more drive and passion in me to keep going than I ever thought I would have.
I didn't win the competition, but I did drop 18 pounds and 4% body fat! I was on my way!! I continued with the eating guidelines that Stacy gave me and continued to work out.....HARD. I was at the gym 4 to 5 days a week for 2 hours each day, burning 1000 to 1200 calories a day. I was extremely focused and strict about what I put in my body as I was seeing results from my efforts. I would even go so far as to take dinner with me places to keep control over my eating. I was dedicated. I set goals for myself along the way, doing what I needed to do to hit those goals. If I didn't reach them, I was still a winner because I was closer to the goals than when I first started. My way of thinking was shifting. I was no longer miserable; I was a strong woman making a healthy change! My girls saw me working hard and cheered me on. They were in this with me and I love them so much for their support! Zoey actually helped me make some good choices when she would say, "Mom! That won't make your butt get smaller!"
My "journey" doesn't have an ending because this is a life-long commitment to health and fitness. I am healthier than I have ever been in my life. I have dropped 58 pounds and 20% in body fat; I've cut my body fat in half. I am no longer a miserable person who hates herself. I have found my confidence and discovered that I can do ANYTHING that I set my mind and my heart to. I've gotten some criticism for time and dedication to my workouts, but I know they come from a place that lacks understanding of where I've come from, both emotionally and physically. There have been moments of desperation where I honestly thought I couldn't lift another pound and prayed my way through, asking God to show me the personal strength that I needed to finish my workout. There have been tears shed as I have exercised through the grief of losing a nephew, rejection from friends, upheaval of many friendships, stress of raising young children, financial difficulties and many more of life's curveballs. Exercise has become my passion. I absolutely love it. I have become so compassionate to those who truly want to make a change in their life. I want to help people realize that underneath their misery is a winner just fighting to emerge! It takes hard work, sweat and tears, but it's worth it! It's worth every minute of it.