I was obese. There I said it!! Obese - what an ugly sounding word! It’s still so painful to write or say that word. At the beginning of this 90-Day Challenge (just 3 short months ago), that is where my body fat percentage listed me. I had already lost over 40 pounds in the 6 months prior to that. How could I possibly still be considered obese? Obesity increases my risk of heart disease, for which I was already at risk. My mother had her first heart attack at 57 years old. She passed away at age 60. Her mother also had a heart attack in her 50s. I am 45 years old and raising an 8-year-old daughter. If my fate were to be the same as the two women in my generation who preceded me, I wouldn’t be around to even see her graduate from college.
I wasn’t always overweight. In my twenties, I was a member of the greatest Air Force on the face of the Earth. I gave birth to two of my greatest blessings while I was in the service. I don’t remember even having to work on losing weight after their births because military life pretty much dictates that you will be healthy and fit. I got out of the service in 1997 and found that the civilian life and workforce don’t focus very much on fitness. My life was consumed by sports activities for the boys and excessive work hours. I was focusing on those around me and forgetting to take the time for my health and wellness. The weight just kept creeping up and topped in 2006 with my last pregnancy. When I was young and fit with my boys (who are now men), I would roller blade and go for miles with them. I would play tag at the park and would have to let them win every once in a while (really boys, I did!). Now, with my daughter, I found I was sitting on the sidelines and watching her play. I longed to be “in the game” with her, but I had no energy to keep up (or even try). My lifestyle choices were affecting the mother that I really wanted to be. I remember so many times telling her “Daddy is the fun one” when she wanted me to run or play outside.
My weight loss journey really started in 2013. I was sitting at 185 pounds and had really just given up on trying to lose weight. I was eating horribly – hiding in my car devouring fast food before I arrived at home. Then when I would get home, I would still eat dinner with the family. I would drive to the gym and sit in my car and not actually step inside the gym. I guess I wanted to “appear” to others like I was trying, but no matter how much I fooled them, I couldn’t fool myself. Then, it happened. I saw a picture that my daughter took of me. I couldn’t believe that was me in that picture. I may look at myself in the mirror every day, but somehow I hadn’t noticed the gravity of my situation until I was staring at this picture and didn’t recognize this person looking back at me. It was time....
About that time, I got an email from Lifetime that I could try a group training class for two weeks for free. I wanted to try the Team Weight Loss, but the schedule just didn’t work with my crazy work schedule. The trainer suggested I try Team Boot Camp instead. I remember the first day I arrived. I was so nervous because I didn’t have very fond memories of the real Boot Camp from 20 years prior. The first day, I finished and I raced to the bathroom and was literally sick (sorry to anyone who walked in on that). That would normally have probably been a good time to quit, but it was free and, boy, do I love a deal. I planned to give it two weeks and then start working out on my own. I went the second day, and I only felt like I was going to be sick. The third day I didn’t feel sick until I arrived at home. That’s progress, right? I continued Boot Camp for that whole two weeks. Within those two weeks, I already was noticing a difference in my attitude. When my two weeks was over, I signed up to stay with I,t and I still continue to be challenged by my trainer, Michelle August, every time I show up. Within 6 months of doing Boot Camp three times a week, I had shed over 40 pounds.
In January 2014, Michelle encouraged me to sign up for the Transformation Challenge. I already lost so much weight, how in the world could I compete? I told her I would think about it and, truth be told, I didn’t give it another thought. The timeframe of the competition was also the busiest time in my work life. Between January and April, my work week requires 50 plus hours. Michelle asked me again and again over the next two weeks. She really believed that I could not only get in better shape but do it competitively, too. I talked it over with my family and friends. They all thought I already looked pretty good. Seriously though, now that I look at my before picture I have to wonder…were they lying to me or did they think I looked pretty good just in comparison to the 40 pounds extra I use to carry? Michelle volunteered that if I were to do it, she would write up workouts for my days away from Boot Camp. How could I say no to that? After all, I do love a good deal.
On Day 1, I weighed in and for the first time in my entire life, I was looking at body fat percentage instead of just weight. Michelle advised me to start taking vitamins and supplements. I am not a pill taker, and I will cry about a headache before I will pop aspirin. But one thing I decided before I started these 90 days is to listen to Michelle and take her advice. I am obviously not an expert when it comes to living a healthy life, and it was important for me to seek out those who were. I started taking Life Time’s AM and PM vitamins, calcium, whey protein and FiberMend daily. I was already eating a high protein and low carb diet, but Michelle showed me that I was actually eating too little in my calorie count and not consuming enough protein. In addition to that, I needed to supplement the nutrients that my food plan wasn’t providing. My energy level skyrocketed almost immediately. I started really tracking my nutrition and not just calories but also protein amounts.
The first two weeks I had awesome results, and I really felt like I could do this. But I quickly found that it can be somewhat of a roller coaster watching those results so closely. Week 3 I almost had a meltdown because “that stupid scale” said my body fat went up. How is that possible? I’m here every day, taking my vitamins, eating correctly, and working really hard. There were a few of those tough days in the last 90 days, but there were also those days where instead of beating that scale, I wanted to hug it. There were days when I had to stop the tears because I felt defeated and days when I had to stop the tears because I had made another breakthrough. Ten percent body fat lost, twenty percent body fat lost, thirty percent body fat lost, etc. The important part is I did not give up. On days I wanted to sleep in, on days when “I just didn’t feel like it,” on days when the scale was not my friend, I showed up ready to work hard.
I remember looking in the mirror during week 4 and seeing definition in my abs. Well, first I was kind of surprised I had abs but then…. definition? There is no motivation quite like seeing the results looking back at you in the mirror. I went down 5 pant sizes during this 90-Day Challenge. I had “dieted” in the past but this was not dieting: this was training. I was training my body, and I was training my mind.
I took advantage of so many different activities at the gym. In addition to my Boot Camp classes, I was doing weight training, climbing stairs, taking fitness classes, and doing Pilates Reformer. It was difficult even with as much time as I spent at the gym to get bored with my routine because every day it was something totally different.
The entire staff at Life Time has been amazing. The greeters at the door who greeted me by name whether it was 5 a.m. or 7 p.m. made me feel like I was family. The childcare workers provided the most nurturing and professional care to my daughter on the occasions that I had to drag her along. The trainers on the floor spoke words of affirmation and encouragement and were always open to any questions I asked and gave out helpful tips.
The support I received was stellar!! First and foremost, GOD continued to answer my prayers keeping me healthy and getting my feet on the floor at zero dark thirty. My husband was just plain amazing. He must have cooked hundreds of tilapia fillets over the last three months. Most importantly, he picked up the slack at home and gave me time to find myself again!
There are no words to thank Michelle for creating my workouts. I hated you for those and loved you for those at the same time. You believed in me before I believed in myself. You haven’t just helped me change my body; you have helped me achieve the life I only dreamed about.
As I write this, I have decreased my body fat out of the obese range and into the ATHLETE range. I am an ATHLETE. Wow, I like the sound of that. I AM AN ATHLETE!! I am not obese, I will never again be obese, and I will never, ever be in those sizes again.
Thank you, Life Time Fitness, for motivating me to challenge myself over the last 90 days and finding My Healthy Way of Life again!!! I refuse to sit on the sidelines and watch life pass me by anymore. I play baseball with the neighbor kids, I bike ride, I roller skate, I race my daughter home from the bus (and every now and then I even LET her win!).
Thank you for getting me back into the game!