My story is not unique. There are millions of Americans who share similar experiences as the ones I have had. I spent most of my childhood and young adult life overweight.
I enjoyed sports when I was very young. I was on the local swim team and on softball teams for about five years. However, being the shy and incredibly introverted person I am, when we moved to a new state, I had no desire to participate in these activities. Not because I no longer enjoyed them; my decision to quit these activities was absolutely based on my fear of people. This choice led me to many years of living sedentary and unhappy. I spent most of my adolescent and young adult life living with depression (though many of my friends may not have known). I lead with this information because the person that I am right now is so drastically different than that young girl in high school who thought so little of herself.
In college, I took an elective course with my sister called Aerobic Running. That was the most terrifying class that I had taken up to that point (I was at the end of my second year of school). However, that beginner’s level class changed the course of my life. For the first time in more than a decade, I was physically active. I ran like a sloth, but I did it! And every class period, I got a little better. Over the next year and a half, I lost about fifty pounds, though I only stepped on a scale once during that entire time. I was completely focused on being a better ME, and a number on a scale had nothing to do with it. At the time, I did not realize how amazingly significant that was.
Over the next two years, I met and married my husband, who at the time was a collegiate athlete. When we got married, I began developing eating habits of a collegiate athlete; however, since I was finishing my education AND student teaching at the same time, I was not MOVING like an athlete. Therefore, I started gaining weight back. It crept on slowly until I found myself teaching full time and pregnant with our first child. I was busy, and sick, and so very tired. I lived on Dr. Pepper because that was the only thing that I could keep down for the first six months. Clearly, that wreaked havoc on my body! Having that sweet baby boy sure was a learning experience. When he was born, I was determined to lose the 100 pounds that I had gained in the last year and a half. I spend day in and day out at the gym, and before he was a year old, I ran my first 5k. Again, I ran like a sloth, but I finished! My only goal for that race was to finish and to not be dead last. And I did it! The following year, I ran my first 10k, and although it was incredibly difficult, I was so proud that I finished the race!
And that is how my last seven years has been. Work like crazy at a devastatingly slow pace to get down to pre-pregnancy weight, and then have another baby before I reach my ultimate goals. Luckily, my first pregnancy taught me how NOT to eat, and I took care of my body significantly better through my next two pregnancies. But after my third child, I was still at that 100 pound over weight mark. And, for a while, I wallowed in how extremely depressing it was for me to try so hard, just to be right back at the beginning yet again.
I also became THAT mom. I was the mom who was rarely in any photos with her children, and who hated every single photo that I miraculously DID have with me in it.
Then something changed. I was tired; I mean, clearly I was tired, I had a six month old. It was much more than a physical tired. I was emotionally drained. I was tired of BEING tired. I was ready to step up for myself, and get to where I desperately wanted to be. I decided to become a health and fitness coach. Wait, WHAT? I was 100+ pounds away from my fitness goal, and I wanted to be a fitness coach? I literally felt like that was the craziest thing I have ever wanted to do…and yet, I did it! I signed up to be a Beachbody coach. I wanted other women like me to have a person who looked like them who was also trying to be her very best! So I started a fitness program, shared my story online (even though every post terrified the introvert in me!), and I FINISHED that program. I mean, I actually started and FINISHED a workout program.
With three kids running around, and an at home preschool to run.
It felt incredible, and I couldn’t wait to share how different I felt. I started sharing my progress, my struggles, and my triumphs with people around me; and some of my friends joined me. My group of friends has been such a huge support to me. They understand when I have moments of weakness, and they celebrate with me each program that we finish. Those women keep me going, and they help me pick myself back up when I fall. Yes. I still struggle. I still like holiday candy and some days I just can’t get myself to enjoy my workout. But I’ve learned over the last ten months, that it’s okay! I’m NOT perfect, nor will I ever be. I wake up each morning with the courage to be a stronger woman than I was yesterday. Sometimes, that means I push myself harder in my workouts and sometimes it means I resist Chinese food and chocolate. I am a work in progress and I am okay with that.
For the last ten months, I have consistently showed up for my workouts, but the biggest life changer for me was learning about personal development. I am constantly working on my mindset and changing the way that I think. If I THINK it, then it’s true. I listen to podcasts and read books that make me better from the inside out, and only then am I able to accomplish the next step in my fitness journey. I also firmly believe that for me, physical development comes only AFTER I work on my spiritual self. I have developed a more certain and deeper faith in God and because of that faith, I am able to overcome my old weaknesses and develop new habits that strengthen me and those around me.
Since June 2016, I have only lost 30 pounds, which means I am still 70 pounds away from my goal. But I have GAINED so much. I have gained confidence in who I am. I have gained friendships that keep me accountable and keep me motivated to continue to work towards my goal. I have gained a stronger determination to reach goals that go far beyond my physical goals. I have started and finished six programs and have recently begun my seventh. My relationships with my children and my husband are stronger, and I am finally becoming a better example to my little ones. I’m becoming the kind of person that I want my kids to follow. I can run up our stairs without being completely out of breath (with the exception of the day after leg day. Ha!) My husband and I regularly choose to have gym dates rather than dinner dates. My moments of depression are just that: moments rather than months at a time. I am proud of who I have become in the last year. I just turned 30 this month, and I’m excited to see how much better, happier, and healthier my next decade here on Earth will be.