By: Erin Mitchell
“Wow! You look great! What are you doing?” It’s a phrase I’ve heard a lot the last few months. It’s to be expected with any large amount of weight loss. But to even begin to respond, I have to go back a little further.
How I Got There
I’ve always been a “big girl.” I’ve spent years and years struggling with my weight, as far back as high school. I went to college and gained the dreaded Freshman 15. I didn’t give it much thought. I got married and over the following years, the weight just kept coming. I didn’t eat healthy or exercise. I had two beautiful children, was a stay-at-home mom, and had convinced myself I was just fine and happy with the way I looked.
I had done weight loss programs but they didn’t stick. After moving to Arizona, I began teaching, and my days were filled with caring for the children in my classroom during the day, and my family at night. The weight kept coming. I made many excuses. I was too busy. I didn’t have time to workout. My family didn’t like the ultra-healthy food, I didn’t want to cook two seperate meals.
There wasn’t anything wrong with me, people come in all shapes. But deep down, the bottom line was that I was unhappy.
Something Had to Change
On my 30th birthday I decided I had ENOUGH and it was time to start making changes! The only reason I was big was because I let myself be big. My family has a history of high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, thyroid disease, heart disease, and so much more. I was setting myself up for endless health problems and I knew I needed to make BIG changes.
My husband was away from home on military orders and I figured it was the perfect time to start. It began slowly, with walks around the neighborhood and workouts online. I found a website called HasFit (http://www.hasfit.com) and it was perfect for a beginner. I also had to overhaul my eating habits, and looked to the internet again for ideas. The resources online and my friends were a huge help!
The information and support were out there. I just had to stop being lazy!
After a month, I was down 10 pounds! No gimmicks, no pills, no shakes, just healthy eating and exercising. I decided to step things up a notch, and began a Couch to 5K training program to help me get moving. Slowly building up my endurance, I found a peacefulness in walking or running around the park while my kids played. I made it my goal to run a 5K race before 2012 was over, giving me only 5 months to prepare.
Determination Beats Excuses
I had an obstacle staring me down: the return of the school year. Determined to overcome excuses, I would get up early to workout and end each day with a walk or jog with the kids and our dog.
With extreme dedication and motivation from friends and family, I was down 35 pounds. My husband was finally home and he was shocked and proud of the progress I’d made. With his support, I knew I could keep going.
Overcoming Fear of the Gym
A co-worker convinced me to check out her gym. And that was that. My husband signed us up at our local Anytime Fitness and set up a tour and meeting with a trainer. I can honestly say I almost didn’t go. I was terrified. But I dragged myself in and I’ve put my fears to bed, once and for all
After a few months, I realized I was officially in love with my gym. I learned how to use the machines and gained a confidence that I didn’t know I was capable of. Anytime Fitness never made me feel like the odd fat girl out. Everyone was welcoming, nobody made you feel that you couldn’t do something, and there were smiling faces from the other gym-goers that invited you to chat and make friends.
Now, a year after starting my journey, and 8 months after joining Anytime Fitness, I have lost 80 pounds! I went from a size 24 to a size 12 and ran 2 5k races. My confidence, self-esteem, and happiness have all soared.
On a recent family trip to Utah, I was able to race my daughters up the inclines during a hike. My kids and I can run and play without needing breaks to catch my breath. I’m happier and healthier than I’ve ever been in my adult life.
I proved to myself that I COULD do it, and I still can! My journey isn’t over. While I’ve stopped setting weight loss goals, I’ve continued to set life-oriented goals. I challenge myself to complete exercises, eat healthy foods, try new classes at the gym, and to continue to do the things that make me happy. Believe me when I say: if I can do it, you can, too!
My Tips For Any Beginner
- Make friends with the instructors at the gym. They WANT to help you. Add them on Facebook, check in with them on your difficult days, and let them celebrate your successes with you, no matter how small you feel they are.
- Set weight-oriented goals if you must, but also set non-weight goals. Buy a new outfit that you love that’s just a little too small, and work to make it fit. Challenge yourself to fitness-related goals, and celebrate when you achieve them.
- Let yourself indulge once in a while! A bowl of ice cream every now and then isn’t going to break the bank, just don’t eat it every night.
- Tell your friends and family about your goals, ask them to support you, and avoid those who don’t.
Most importantly, you have to believe that there are no more excuses.
I Couldn’t Do This Alone
A huge thank you to all the people who helped me along the way. There were so many! While I know I can’t name everyone, I need to name a few.
First and foremost, thanks to my husband, who always reminds me how far I’ve come. A special thanks to my daughters, who are always my cheerleaders and biggest fans. To my “gym family” at Anytime Fitness Prescott Valley, I couldn’t have come this far without you! Leanne and Jonathan Shearer, for making it all accessible and bringing me into the fold. Nanci Bosick, for always pushing me farther and cheering me on. And Angela Becker and Allison Vallejo, for being two of the most awesome spin instructors. Alana, Erin, Chelsea, and Kendal, thank you for cheering on even the smallest victories. Every single one of you mean the world to me!