August 1st marked 1 year since I left my corporate job to start my own business. I walked away from a 15-year career, and spent several months detoxing from corporate culture and celebrating my freedom. My waistline showed the consequences. I buckled down in the fall, and the stress returned. My stress “management” was comfort food. Judging by the pile of fast food bags in my trashcan, I needed a lot of comfort. I visited my Starbucks daily, and they made it extra easy by remembering my order. Out and out I grew. I joined Life Time to get back in my skinny jeans. I signed up with my trainer, Caleb, for direction and accountability. All I had to do was listen to direction about my diet, but all I wanted to know was how many reps to do. In a few months, I was back in the jeans, but still not really healthy.
In the spring, I was suddenly faced with some unexpected health issues. For the 1st time, something was going noticeably wrong with my body. Hormones were out of whack, and systems weren’t working properly. After several tests, a course of action was set – a simple routine outpatient procedure done at my OBGYN with minimal recovery. I could hit the gym again in a day or two. The experience turned out to be one of the most traumatic and invasive experiences I’ve ever had. I was only mildly sedated, and vividly remember the majority of the procedure, including excruciating pain. Recovery was longer than expected. It took almost 2 weeks for me to walk without pain. My body felt violated and foreign. It felt soft and weak, but moving was painful. My trainer offered low-impact options to help me stay active, but I was frustrated to see the work I had done to improve slowly diminish. I needed to do something to reclaim my body and regain ownership of it again.
When I was cleared by the doctor, the 60-Day Challenge was around the corner. Caleb encouraged me to sign up. I was afraid, and did NOT want to give up Starbucks. I knew that would be the 1st thing to go. Instead, I had one ceremonial last latte and committed. I weighed in, refusing to look at the scale. Taking the before pictures was painful enough. I had one goal – to last 60 days. I wanted to finish. I didn’t feel like I was accomplishing much in life, so finishing was all I could fathom. I did want to change my relationship with food, and find a better way to manage stress. Caleb and I set a target body fat goal. It seemed impossible, but all I had to do was listen and follow direction. I kind of hated that part, but I agreed.
I thought I had worked hard before, but Caleb upped the ante. I had signed up to be challenged, so I pushed myself, trying not to whine. I was the hardest on myself. With his help, I quieted the voices of “You can’t” / “You aren’t good enough.” He encouraged me during the down days. We high-fived on the good. Once results started to be evident, other Life Time staff stopped by to encourage me. Their “good jobs” and “you look greats” helped me believe in myself. With each workout, my body changed and got stronger. Caleb was always encouraging in his own way, and one day I realized I had actually started to like working out.
I thought the biggest challenge would be changing my diet. With my trainer’s guidance and the weekly e-mails, I learned how to eat real food to lose the weight without counting calories or points. My idea of food and eating changed. I started to appreciate it a lot more, including those periodic cheat meals! I paid attention to my cravings and why I wanted to eat. With that awareness, I could make a better, healthier choice. I understand now how to eat well, not overindulge, and keep things in balance.
What I didn’t expect was the mental and emotional endurance it would take to finish. Willpower and self-control were crucial. (I cried over Oreos once, but I did NOT eat one). The hardest part of the Challenge was learning how to live in this new body. While I loved losing weight and seeing muscle definition, I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror. I struggled to feel attractive. Caleb helped put things into perspective, pulling in a female friend to help encourage me. I was impressed that this Life Time Trainer could speak to the emotional and mental side as well. Over time, I’ve come to accept all of me, and I love my new body.
During the Challenge, I learned how to care for my whole person. In my field we talk a lot about self-care. I learned it is not an event but rather a lifestyle. I’m shocked and pleased with how I have been transformed. The transition has made me stronger, healthier, more resilient and more balanced, and helped me be a better coach to my clients. I met or exceeded all of my goals and plan to keep that momentum. I look forward to integrating group fitness classes and yoga into my routine, and building a community at Life Time. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to participate in this Challenge and, of course, for my trainer, Caleb, who always had my back.