2016 was by far the most trying year of my entire life.
I started the year as a new mom, still recovering from an emergency c-section, followed by abdominal tearing, that left me unable to walk for 2 whole months. Though I had spent the majority of my life in a physically fit state, I was still struggling to regain a lot of the essential strength my body had lost from a difficult pregnancy and recovery. At 37 years old I wasn’t bouncing back as easily as I had anticipated. Any and all forms of exercise seemed daunting to my damaged body.
Early in the year my aunt, who had been struggling with cancer for many years, finally lost her battle and passed away. Within weeks of this devastation, my own mother was diagnosed with the exact same cancer. I was faced with taking care of a baby and a parent, all while trying to regain some sense of myself and my body. I overcompensated for these losses by drinking too much wine and eating too many “comfort” foods in an effort to feel some sort of relief from the stress and grief. All those bad habits provided me with was declining physical and mental health and an ever-growing battle with my postpartum self-esteem.
As I rushed to work, to home, to see my mother, the days seemed to never have enough hours in them. It felt as though I would never find time to mend myself and my health again. At the highest weight I’d ever been I was miserable and depressed. My weight was spiraling out of control, along with my year. Then one day I received an email that changed everything.
“Hello Christy, join our 60-Day Challenge and get fit by the first of the year!”
Though I had been a member at Life Time since the club’s inception in my area, I hadn’t actively used my membership for at least 2 years. The concept of getting fit in order to welcome in a new year really resonated with me. I couldn’t think of a better way to usher out the trials and tribulations of 2016 then to burn them off in the gym. I was all in. I signed up that day, registered for the weigh in weekend and dedicated myself to the Challenge.
At first I was scared of working out hard because of my difficult pregnancy and recovery. I was scared of reinjuring my internal c-section scarring so I started with walking on the treadmill and light weight training. I made it to the gym 6 days a week, even if some of those days I had to go at 4am to accommodate juggling my work schedule with caring for my son and still having regular family time. I began to truly appreciate that Life Time is open 24 hours a day. I didn’t have any excuses knowing they were always there for me. The childcare center was also a lifesaver that enabled me to always be able to fit in a workout somewhere in my day.
Somewhere around Day 26, I realized how much easier it was to pick up my son and how walking up the stairs in my house no longer left me out of breath. My body started to feel better than it had felt in a long time. That’s when I really began to transform. I started working out twice a day, lifting heavier than my mind thought I could. Then one day when I was on the treadmill, I broke through my last mental barrier and I began to run! Going from being bedridden and coveting the ability to walk again and now being able to run was the best feeling ever. I rode that high for the rest of the Challenge, joining early morning cycle classes and evening Zumba sessions. I remembered how fun working out can truly be.
I can’t say I wasn’t tempted to eat terribly again during all the holiday parties between Thanksgiving and New Years. But I always took a step back, reflected on the past year and remembered why I was really doing this. I can truly say I never deviated once from the clean diet I set for myself on Day 1. Whenever I felt truly tempted by something I shouldn’t eat, I drank a chocolate VeganMax protein shake and that really did satisfy the craving. Looking back I didn’t miss a thing by avoiding all the sugary treats that are a normalcy for most of us during the holidays.
This morning, as I sprinted up the stairs in my bikini so that my mom, who is now thankfully cancer free, could take my after challenge photos I felt like I already won. The 60-Day Challenge gave me the best gift of all this holiday season: it gave me back myself. I now know I have the tools to stay in the best physical and mental health for the rest of my life and there is no going back. In fact, I already signed up for the Commitment Day 5K on January 1st. Life Time Fitness is aptly named, as fitness, health and wellness should be a part of your day-to-day for all of your lifetime.