The word challenge is defined as something that by nature or character serves as a call to battle. As a child, I challenged myself that I would always keep myself mentally and physically strong. This challenge came from watching my parents.
My father was an avid marathon runner and all-around athlete. I remember watching him at races, and how hard he trained. My mother struggled with mental health issues, and prior to a diagnosis of severe depression and bipolar disorder, her weight catapulted to over 300 pounds. I ached for her to be better, but some days she just wasn’t able to function.
I began to experience my own life’s challenges in my twenties. My husband and I had four beautiful daughters in six years. During my fourth pregnancy, an ultrasound revealed our daughter would be born with spina bifida. My doctor told us she would be paralyzed and neurologically devastated with a poor quality of life. I spent the next four months of my pregnancy planning her arrival and wondering how our lives would change forever. She endured nine surgeries before her fifth birthday. She is doing well, and with the help of her amazing doctors has continued to prove everyone wrong. She is a living miracle!
In my forties, I began working nights. I ate terrible, lacked sleep, gained 20 pounds, had headaches and began feeling depressed. One night, I was trying to stay awake driving home and got a call that my brother was in critical condition. He went in for routine surgery and his heart stopped. He suffered irreversible brain damage and was on life support. After several days, we made the decision to let him go. Watching this young man take his last breath was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
There had to be more to life than this. What had happened to me? I had broken my promise to myself to stay physically and mentally strong. I went to my doctor and there was nothing wrong with my physical health. After a lot of denial, I realized I had fallen into a depression. I needed to change, and I started with walking into Life Time.
Entering Life Time for the first time felt really good. Everyone was super positive and energetic. I saw a photo of the spring transformation winner. Wow, that made a great impression on me! Something ignited in me that I can’t explain.
I wanted to transform my body and be strong again. My fitness routines in the past were mostly cardio, so I decided to use a different approach, and utilized a trainer. I started working with Brandyn Ambrosy. My body fat was 24.9% and we set a goal of 14%. Using Life Time’s CORE 3 method was key in my success. Brandyn told me 80% of my success would be in the kitchen and we discussed incorporating a high protein, high fat, low carb diet plan. I took Life Time fish oil and the vanilla protein powder daily. I did resistance three days with Brandyn and walked on the treadmill two days. He taught me how to use weights and wasn’t shy about correcting me. It was common for him to come running toward me to “fix” something I was doing wrong! Brandyn’s belief in me kept me excited and motivated. He made coming to the gym so much fun. In four weeks, I lost 12 pounds and was feeling great.
I decided to do the 60-Day Challenge. I wanted to compete. Images of my dad came flooding back and I couldn’t wait to get started. I took advantage of the Try-It Tuesday’s, recipes on Life Time’s website and did boot camps. I completed a two-mile obstacle course on a 95-degree day! We also started incorporating HIIT into my workouts and I began working out twice a day.
My family noticed positive changes in me. They came with me to Life Time. The basketball courts, sauna, steam room, pool and hot tubs were great places for family conversations. Life Time, for us, is not just a gym. It’s our home away from home.
I don’t want to go back to the dark place I was in just a few months ago. I plan to continue my strength training with Brandyn. I’m going to make sure I’m getting into the gym daily, explore new recipes, and make new goals as I continue to accomplish the old ones.
Life’s challenges serve as a call to battle. To me that means take strength from something bad and turn it into something good. I kept my promise to myself thanks to my family, Brandyn and Life Time. I will forever be grateful for those challenges in my life and continue to draw strength from them. I am excited to see what else I can do on this journey!