Though I had been active for most of my life, I struggled with my weight starting around puberty. I remember leaving 6th grade feeling very much like my normal self, and returning to 7th grade about 15 lbs heavier. I believe I gained an additional 10-15 lbs between 7th and 9th grade.
My dad and I were very active with outdoor activities, such as climbing, hiking, and canyoneering, but I seemed to hang on to about 20-30 lbs of extra weight through High School and into college. I remember when I graduated High School I was 185 lbs at about 5’8”.
During college I changed my eating and activity levels somewhat and over the course of 4 years, lost about 25-30 lbs. When my (now) husband and I took a celebratory trip to Hawaii to celebrate my college graduation I was 155 lbs. I thought that was it! I thought my journey was over! Turns out my I was fighting my body…I gained back 20-30 lbs within the first 6 months after college. I was in a comfortable, committed relationship, and had begun my “real job” in the “real world.” I would do crash diets and unrealistic workout plans (mostly cardio) for a few months, and then “fail” and fall off the wagon.
Joe and I were married in the spring of 2009 and at the time I believe I was about 175 lbs. We had our first child in 2010. Within a week of being pregnant, I broke my foot and was out of commission for 6 weeks. I used this as an excuse to stay relatively inactive for the remainder of my pregnancy. I got pregnant at about 195 lbs and gained 40, topping out about 247 lbs when I have birth. Luckily, being that heavy was not natural for my frame, so my body naturally shed about 20 lbs in the first 2 weeks postpartum. But I stayed relatively stable at about 215 lbs well after my son had been born.
During 2012 I was burning out at work. I worked at a rape crisis center and to be honest, my heart was simply breaking. I valued the work I did and am so grateful for the opportunity afforded to me, but I burnt out after a while a needed a change. My husband supported this completely and we decided I was going to stop working for the time being. I decided my new job was to take care of my mind, my body, my family, and our house. There was a small locally owned gym just up the road from me and I gave cardio a try there for about a month, but it just didn't feel right.
I relocated to a franchise, which was also locally owned called Snap Fitness. I started out pretty shy and unsure, doing the things I had already typically done…but I’m a social butterfly, I started connected with both the staff and other clients and really forging connections to this community. I realized the immediate results were not the deciding factor, I couldn’t keep looking right in front of my feet to measure progress. I started focusing on progress within my functional workouts: lifting heavier weights, working out for longer periods of time, and setting functional goals like being able to do a body weight pull-up.
I blossomed at Snap Fitness. I felt completely welcomed and accepted as I was. A number of now dear friends watched my transformation and encouraged me to become a trainer here! The manager and I would joust back and forth like, “don’t you hear the phone, boss?” He would answer, “well you practically live here, answer it already!” Soon enough the banter turned into genuine interest and I accepted a job as a part time personal trainer. At that time I had lost about 20 lbs in a year and a half and I discovered what my body was designed for: lifting heavy weights!! I didn’t lift like a girl, I lifted like Arnold. I used my weight to my advantage to safely lift much heavier than typical for my gender. I remember one of my proudest moment was setting a goal to being able to complete a single body weight pull-up within 6 months. I did it!! I went from a 215 lb woman who couldn’t do a single push-up, to a lean, mean, 170 lb woman who could do 30 pull-ups in a workout (3 sets of 10 reps).
At the end of it all I went from 215 lbs down to 170 lbs, and from a size 16/18 to a size 8/10. I cared less and less how my body looked aesthetically and more and more about how I functioned: how heavy I could lift, how my form looked, and the various challenges I set and achieved.
I learned many valuable lessons: I didn’t want to lose 30 lbs in 30 days…I wanted to lose 30 lbs for the rest of my life. I wanted to balance a relatively good diet with treating myself! I hate the term YOLO, but darn it, I DO only live once, and I want the chicken wings!! I learned how hard I had to work out in order to maintain my weight and eat just about anything I wanted. I learned that attention for my looks is nice, but respect for what I can do is even better. There is no better feeling than when the biggest guy in the gym matches my Lat Pull and tells me I’m strong, not for a girl, but just strong. That is a powerful feeling. Finally, I learned the value of commitment and hard work. It didn’t happen over night, it didn’t even happen in a year…but it did happen. I took control of my strength, my energy output, my body. I enjoy the burn, I love knowing I pushed myself past what my brain says I can do. I love feeling sore the next day (or next two days!), and knowing I earned this body. It was not handed to me. It took 20 adult years to learn these lessons and I’m grateful for every step along my journey.
**Update Fall 2015 we decided to expand our family!! I continued working at Snap and training all the way through my pregnancy with my doctor's blessing. Read more about "My Delicate Condition." The weight
didn't come off super easy the second time around. It took 2 years in fact, but I currently weigh about 165 lbs. I'm stronger than I've ever been, and I'm still absolutely in love with fitness and training. Everything in life is a cycle, and if you constantly prioritize your health and wellness, you will have long-term success.
And trust me…if I can do it, anyone, at any age, with any conditioning can do it to. There is no substitute for hard work. Believe in your journey. Believe in your strength. An unleash your beast!!