By: Tracey Byrd
366 days ago, I began a mission to reverse the damage I’d been inflicting on my body for 29 years. From as far back as my childhood —a sedentary lifestyle, and poor eating habits had defined my life. I was always waiting to be “rescued,” never realizing that the only person who could truly save me, was myself.
Today marks my 367th consecutive day of working out. Here’s my story….
The Lightbulb Moment
One very early morning at work, I was sitting at my desk, when a thought occurred to me: “I bet I could get a gym membership paid for with my flexible spending account.”
I called the number on my health insurance card, and before I knew it my doctor was writing me a prescription for exercise. The destination: Anytime Fitness. And, so began a journey that changed my life…
The First Workout
On Feb 21, 2012, I wrote on my Facebook “Here goes nuthin…Pray for me!” When I arrived at the gym, I met my trainer, Justin, and together we charted a course for my weight loss. We did a health assessment, a tutorial on how to use the gym equipment, and I even got a pep talk! Soon after, I was given my first assignment:
Go do 30 minutes of cardio on the treadmill or the elliptical.
I chose to go with the elliptical because I’ve always heard you get the most bang for your buck on that machine. I set the machine to level 2 and entered my weight as 350 (even though I was heavier) and after 30 seconds, I felt like I was going to die! Suddenly, I had to shift all of my energy and focus towards avoiding the white light. I made it through about 4 minutes and I got off gasping for air.
Despite my first attempt, I was determined to complete the 30 minutes! I moved to a stationary bike and started pedaling with no resistance, not going particularly fast. I completed about 7 minutes, and my body screamed at me to stop. So I dragged my 29-year-old butt into the restroom, collapsed onto the toilet, grabbed the garbage can, and I dry-heaved. This concluded Day 1.
I was determined to make working out a habit, I wanted my body to know it was going to have to move every single day. So, I once again posted on Facebook saying, “Here goes nuthin again. Day 2!” With all the great supportive feedback I received, I thought, “I can at least make it to 7 days.” And, soon enough I found myself on day 21.
In those early days it was a struggle. I would do as much as I could handle on the cardio machines— get off, catch my breath, stretch, and then get back on. Then I’d do some more and get to maybe 24 or 25 minutes — get off, breathe, and stretch. When I felt defeated, I would call someone I knew would pump me up, and have them help me push through the pain for 8 more minutes.
There were times when I entertained taking a day off, but then I thought about how lazy and absurd that would be. I had come this far, why stop now? Why would I stop pursuing a goal that would ultimately save my life?
I consistently checked-in and posted my progress to Facebook because it held me accountable. I was gaining momentum, confidence, and stamina with each passing day, and my goals continue to get larger: Reach 100 Days. You read that right, 100 days straight.* Once I accomplished that, I aimed to make it a full year, or really 366 days since 2012 was a leap year.
The Amazing Reward
The feedback I’ve received from my family, friends, Facebook followers, and even strangers who have told me how much my journey has inspired them has made every bead of sweat and pound lost even more worthwhile.
I have lost over 100 pounds. But I am not finished, I want to lose 85 more. My first goal… to create a habit… I nailed that one.
If there is one thing I’ve learned along the way it’s you must Move everyday! Your body wants to and expects it.
Celebrate every little victory. If you could only do 5 push-ups in a row previously and now you can do 6, that is a huge deal and deserves to be celebrated!
Journal about your workouts. When you publicly declare your intention to do something, you’re automatically setting yourself up to be held accountable for your actions. For me, Facebook was a great way for me to share my daily progress with friends and family, and seek their encouragement when I needed it most. And Anytime Health is great, too!
In turn, I was able to share workout tips with others that helped them with their own fitness regimes. A support system is so important when you want to make a change in your life!
Get real with yourself
The greatest lesson I’ve learned throughout this entire experience is that change will not come to those who wait for it. Chances are you’re not going to be cast as a contestant on “The Biggest Loser” and be given a personal trainer for free. You have to take responsibility for your own life. If you aren’t satisfied with your current situation, then YOU have to be the one to proactively do something about it. Take it one day at a time…that’s what I did.
Today, I start Day #367….