Not long ago, I sat with my husband of 15 years facing a doctor who said the words terminal cancer. My husband had less than a year left with us. No words can adequately express the heartache and fear associated with what that meant for us and our two young girls. A week later, our 4-year-old was admitted into the hospital diagnosed with Microscopic Colitis, a chronic and painful condition affecting the lining of the colon. It was a sudden and uncertain transition into “survival mode” as I juggled between being a self-employed mom and a nurse to my sick husband and daughter. This was a stressful and difficult time as I grieved over every declining moment in my husband’s health while trying to find answers to help my daughter. Despite our efforts, my husband’s illness progressed and he lost his battle with cancer.
On the outside, I was admired as a strong woman who made it through the unthinkable. In my solitude, I had allowed fear, grief and stress to take over me. My health began to decline. I fell into a quiet depression where most days I didn’t get out of bed. I lost creativity and drive to continue working the business I built. I contemplated whether I wanted to keep going, but my beautiful daughters” love for me kept me focused on the future, and I had loving people in my life who recognized the warning signs and helped me back on my feet.
Trials are a part of life. However, putting my story in writing forced me to reflect over the course of my husband’s illness and his passing, and ponder on what I could have done differently. To start, I tried to shoulder the burden on my own. I used every bit of energy to care for my family and didn’t take the adequate time for myself. I stopped eating healthy foods, then meals altogether and began to binge on junk food as a way to comfort myself. These choices created a snowball effect. I felt sick all the time, had zero energy to be active and started to gain body fat. My body and joints hurt all the time and just doing daily tasks became a challenge. I found myself unhealthy with a list of medications to bandage my problems. I put myself in a sedentary lifestyle and it greatly affected me mentally, emotionally and physically.
Undoubtedly, I would not be where I am today if it were not for Life Time Fitness. It was the therapy I needed and my escape. It got me out of bed and once I started going regularly, everything in my life started to improve. One day, I walked into Jordan Albright’s office to discuss my fitness goals. I was curious about personal training. He answered all my questions and gave me an assessment. He ultimately decided that Brandyn Ambrosy and I would be a good fit.
When I started training, I didn’t have muscle definition and most the time didn’t know what I was doing. I couldn’t do squats, lunge correctly or even do a push-up. Many times I sat in the locker room in tears because of my physical inabilities, but Brandyn didn’t give up on me and continued to correct me until I got it right. I found my workouts to be challenging mentally and physically, but I kept going and it soon became something I looked forward to doing.
Not long after I began training, Brandyn encouraged me to do the 60-Day Challenge. It was my accountability and motivation to keep going. I was nervous as I had never participated in a fitness challenge before. I was at 21.3% body fat and he challenged me to reach 10%. He gave me a fitness plan utilizing CORE 3 – The Life Time Method and suggestions for my nutrition. I accepted his challenge and committed to his plan. With Brandyn’s help, I developed a series of healthy habits. I began using Life Time’s supplements, made the recipes they had online and enjoyed going to the Try-It Tuesdays. I now know how to efficiently plan and prep healthy meals for myself and my family. I also learned how to funnel my grief and stress into fuel while at the gym. These healthy changes also benefited my daughter in a way that surprised us all. Eliminating sugars and high carbs was the path to her healing. She no longer suffers from pain and discomfort from her colitis.
This Challenge has been more than just losing body fat and gaining muscle. It has revealed to me my mental strength and what I am made of. It helped me learn how to better care for myself and my family. Now, in the mirror I no longer see myself as broken, but instead I see a strong, confident, happy and healthy woman. This Challenge gave me the boost I needed to take back and rebuild my life. I have become my own hero. This has been a LIFE transformation for me! I walk away from this Challenge with new confidence in knowing that I am capable of pretty much anything that I am willing to work hard for and that anything in my lifetime is possible if I just believe in myself. My hope is for my story to inspire others to change their life for the better. We can be stronger than our excuses. I am proof that it’s never too late to turn your adversities into something positive.