Category Archives: Fitness

Plus Size Fitness Instructor? Yep…That’s Me…

Life is filled with ups and downs, and there was a time when I blogged about them in real time. Now I spend less time online and more time thinking through situations, praying about them and venting less.

Right now, life is mostly good for Michael and me, but many people around us are hurting. Nothing good can come from sharing those hurts here, but I’m doing what I can to show support and offer love to those around me whether I know them or not.

One of the major ways I do that is through work. I do membership and marketing stuff, and I spend most of my days visiting with people who are striving to become healthier or hoping to start. I encourage kids with special needs to be creative, and I get a lot of fulfillment from loving others. I may not always do it well, but I definitely do my best.

One facet of my job is to bring in families, individuals and even corporate members. I strive to connect with everyone and to make them feel welcome. Often times it works, but once in a while there’s a perspective member who never makes it in. They’re often women who feel like they’ll be judged if they walk into the gym, and I understand that because I was one of those women for a long, long time.

I speak to plus-size women who have been shamed, as well as women who fear being shamed. I always ask them to take a chance on me. “Come in and visit with me face-to-face. You’ll feel so much better when you do.”

There’s nothing more satisfying to hear from a member than what I heard from one of my favorites recently.” She said, “Thank you for helping me see that life is worth living.” I can’t tell you how emotional I am just writing this now…knowing that somewhere in New Orleans a lady who didn’t always know her worth knows it now. (Thank you, God, for using me in that situation!)

Helping people see that who they are is okay has been my mission since I learned that who I am is okay, and I’m ready to take that to the next level now.

I recently completed group fitness certification, and I’m gearing up to teach a class that I’ve created with help from my guy.

I’m doing a demo class next week, and I hope to officially launch in mid-April. (That’ll depend on the rate of choreography and memorization that I out it, but I think it’s a realistic goal.)

My class, which will be formatted specifically for plus-size people (even though everyone is welcome) will allow me to uplift and encourage people like me who need it, and I can’t wait to start.

I’ve spent some serious time putting this together, and now I’m working through the routines – making sure I know them inside out, nailing transitions and working on cues. I haven’t spent so many hours sweating and smiling since I exercised with Richard Simmons and friends in L.A.

Richard is completely off the radar now, and I hope and pray that he doing well.

He helped me change the way I looked at myself, and he helped me understand that I could embrace fitness. It hasn’t been an easy journey for me, but I’m still here trying.

I know that Richard would encourage me to keep striving to be healthy because he did that throughout the time that I did know him. I can’t think of a better way to honor him that by encouraging someone else the way he encouraged me and countless others, and I wish he still emailed, called or tweeted me so I could tell him thank you again.

I’m pretty positive that I was made to do this, and I love it so much already. I’m excited to take this next step giant leap in my own fitness while helping others do the same. 

 

 

 

My First 5k Saints Kick-Off Run

Yesterday I briefly mentioned how uncomfortable it is to weigh as much as I do right now, and I mentioned how much easier certain things would be if I were smaller. I’m really looking forward to proving myself right about that over the next 12 months. My journey to a healthy weight will be much longer than that, but my goal is to participate in the same race I did over the weekend again next year.

Saturday morning I woke up at 5:30 am, and I did a little cleaning, showered and prepared for the 5k that my boyfriend, his brother and I were doing later that morning.

When Michael arrived at my place we walked to the Superdome, and I kept a pretty good pace getting there. We had walked about a mile in total before the race began, and we started in wave 19. (There were people who had finished he 5k before we even started.)

When we crossed the starting line we walked down the same street we had just walked to get to the race, then we continued into the French Quarter. I live two blocks from the Quarter, and I love to walk through it early in the morning. It was beautiful, but it was already sweltering too.

french-quarter-5kAs I made it to the halfway mark I was sweating my guts out, but my heart rate was fine. I felt good, but I soon realized that I would be the last person to finish the race.

Michael refused to run ahead of me even though he could have completed the race a few times in the amount of time it took me to finish, and at that point I was glad he was there. I knew I was going to be last, but I also knew I had to finish.

I didn’t talk, and I didn’t stop to take in the scenery. I just walked. At that moment I had to face the reality that the weight I’m carrying was weighing me down. Most of the time I don’t notice. I mean, I’m always aware of my weight, but I don’t think about it often. I walk slower and make stops more frequently, and for years I’ve oscillated between trying to lose it and just dealing with it.

It was important for me to get the medal at the end of this race. It looked cool, but the closer I got to the Superdome the more I wanted to be on the 50-yard line. I wanted the medal at the end too because it would become a daily reminder that I can do hard things, and I figured as long as the police escort was behind me I’d make it to the finish line (and get the medal.)

The second half of the race was quiet, but as I approached the Superdome I got discouraged. My body felt fine, but I had blisters. I wanted to cry as I saw droves of people walking out wearing their medals, but I never once considered not finishing.

In the last mile I told myself that we could just take an Uber home even though it wasn’t far at all. I told Michael too, and he said we could do whatever I wanted to do. He also encouraged me, of course, which made my want to cry tears of joy too.

Seriously, God gave me exactly the kind of man I dreamed of being with, and He placed him in my life at precisely the right time. These are the things that got me through the last mile of my short, yet blister-inducing race.

As we walked around the Superdome the last few hundred yards felt nearly impossible, but people cheered me along as they walked out. I stopped a few times for a few seconds, and Michael lovingly reminded me that I could do it and that I wasn’t quitting.

superdomeWhen I finally entered the Superdome the air conditioner made me feel like I had just reached
heaven. At that point I said, “Go run the last 40 yards. I need to do this by myself,” and after some convincing he ran. The jerk wasn’t even sweating. Ha

I tried to make myself rally, but I didn’t run at all. I simply walked the last 40 yards, just as I had walked the rest of the race, and when I crossed the finish line Michael was waiting there to place my medal around my neck.

That was an amazing moment for me. I felt tired, my feet hurt from the blisters, but I felt proud too. As I saw myself on the Jumbotron I heard that announcers talking about me as I finished, and there were people cheering for me as I crossed. It was a good moment, but all I could think about was how thankful I was that Jesus gave me strength to finish and that Michael never left my side except when he ran ahead to get water for me. He even held it, so I could just drink it as I needed it.

saints-kick-off-2016After I downed the Gatorade that Michael got for me I realized that he and his brother weren’t wearing medals. Apparently, there were people going up and getting multiple medals when they  finished, so his brother got one for me because he knew how much it would mean to me to receive it. Michael is awesome, and his entire family is just as wonderful. They could have gotten in line and had medals mailed to them later, but it didn’t matter to them. They just wanted me to have mine, and I got it thanks to his big bro.

If I had known how challenging this race would be for me I would have made excuses to not do it, so I’m glad I didn’t know. Michael and I walk around the same path often, but we stop to look at pretty things and often walk through the Riverwalk Outlet Mall so I can cool off.

I wore my new sneakers too, which were largely responsible for the blisters. (Rookie mistake, I guess,) but I felt tired after the 4.75 miles of walking I did, including the race. I can definitely walk that far without feeling achy or needing to stop, which makes me feel good about my body. It was also much harder than it needed to be because of the extra weight I’m carrying.

img_3808It feels so good to know that I completed the race and that I’m loved by a man who understands exactly where I am. (He used to weigh 140 pounds more than he does now.) It also felt good to know that his brother grabbed the medal because he knew how much it would mean to me.

I wouldn’t have done this race if Michael hadn’t asked me to and signed us up for it before I had a chance to say no. I’m so glad he signed me up for it, and I’m already looking forward to doing the same race next year.

I’ve wanted to do it every year since I lived here, and now I can say I did it! The medal and my blisters are both reminders that I can accomplish things even when they’re not easy, and I need that reminder right now more than ever.

saints-kick-off-run-medal

 

 

 

 

Gastric Sleeve Surgery: Day One

The process to be approved for weight-loss surgery is not short, but if the end result leads me to incredible health benefits it’ll be worth it. It’s slightly less overwhelming now that I’ve spoken to my doctor about everything I need to do in preparation, but it’s going to be a long road.

The surgeon sent me a checklist that must be completed before I can be approved, and the process has begun:

  • Clearance from Cardiologist with a recent EKG – I had an EKG a few weeks ago, and it came back normal. Whew! I still have to see a cardiologist though, which means I have to find one soon.
  • Psychological Evaluation – I’m in the healthiest place I’ve ever been in my heart and mind, so that doesn’t seem like a big deal. I just need to schedule an appointment.
  • Pulmonology Evaluation – I have to have a pulmonary function test and an arterial blood gas. I really have no idea what this means, but it sounds like it might hurt. Yikes!
  • Blood work with a TSH within the last 12 months – I did this a few weeks ago too, but if they need more blood I’ll let them poke me again. I think we’re good are though.
  • Physician supervised weight loss and exercise program for 6 months – My insurance pays for Weight Watchers meetings, which counts. I’m already doing pretty well there, so I’m going to keep it up. Today was my first of 6 appointments that will be specific to my weight-loss progress. I’ll see my doctor again a month from now, and I hope to be 8 to 10 pounds lighter.
  • Dietician Evaluation – This seems pretty straight forward, and I think I could benefit greatly from it. I’ll do that on the same day as my surgical visit.

I’ve been doing well with Weight Watchers lately, and I’m finally starting to feel well after a few weeks of pain due to skin issues. I haven’t exercised in over two weeks, but I think I’m well enough to start again. Unfortunately, there’s no prescription or remedy to completely fix the problem, so even though it hurts again I have to deal with it.

sleep studyTonight I’m doing a sleep study, which should be interesting. Thankfully, they sent me home with the equipment, so I’m not required to spend the night anywhere else. It seems invasive, but it won’t be nearly as uncomfortable as sleeping in a hospital or another strange place.

I typically sleep through the night and wake up feeling rested, so I’m guessing I’m okay. I’m just going to do every test they suggest with the hope that it will lead me to a healthier place overall.

This process feels overwhelming to me, but I’ve spent the last few weeks thinking about how life would be different. I already love my life! I have a loving family, a great job, a group of good friends, a boyfriend who is thoughtful, encouraging and understanding, a comfortable home and a bright future. I don’t want any of that to change; I just want my health to improve long-term, so I  can enjoy the life I’m already living. It would be cool to be able to buy jeans again too, but I think I’m pretty close to that right now.

 

 

 

 

 

I Will Always Love Richard Simmons Because of Moments Like This One

I cannot believe that this happened for the first time five years ago!

I think of Richard so often, and right now I’m going through training that makes me think of him everyday.

He helped me change the way I see myself. He made it okay for me to love myself more, to desire more for my life and to feel confident dancing off the pounds.

I’ve gained weight since this video, but I’m in pretty healthy groove right now. Watching this video for the first time in ages reminds me that I can do very cool things.

If you’re reading this, Richard, I love you and miss you and pray for you.

Now That I Have Health Insurance Again…

This has been a productive year, and now that I have health insurance again I’m facing the daunting task of finding a primary care physician. Can we talk about how hard it is to find a doctor who will look at your whole person when you’re obese? (Yeah, I know I’m obese. I know I need to change that. I know that’s all you see, but can we discuss other things as well?)

I’m not saying that every doctor will see my size and nothing else, but the reality is that I’m facing an uphill battle. I haven’t had a lot of experience with doctors or hospitals, which is awesome.  I do know that I do need to get a physical and address a couple of  issues that have bothered me for a while. (I’ve mentioned them here in previous posts.)

Last time my blood pressure was checked it was 138/82, which is the highest it’s ever been…ever. I know that’s not terrible, but it was a reality check for me. I think it will be lower in the coming months because I’m exercising more than I have in a long time. My blood sugar was perfect too, which was good. I  just realize that I’m getting older and that I need to get serious about making some minor changes (at the very least.)

My biggest issue lately has nothing to do with finding a PCP though. I constantly squint because it’s harder to see the screens I stare at for the majority of the day. Even reading books on my iPad is taxing on my eyes, so it’s time for another visit to the eye doctor. Thankfully, that’s no big deal.

Do you have health insurance? If so, are you satisfied with your doctors and coverage?

 

 

 

An Honest Look At My Weight

I lost four pounds last week. Having a schedule that requires me to plan what I’m going to eat has definitely been helpful, but I had mixed emotions after looking at some photos that my friend, Simone, took of me over the weekend. 

  

I know I’ve gained a lot of weight. I don’t beat myself up for it because that doesn’t lead to positive results (at least not in the long run.) I don’t try to hide it, nor do I feel sorry myself. My weight gain, which happened for the most part last year, came as a direct result of choices that I made. I’ve talked about them here many times before, so I’ll skip that today. 

The added weight feels more noticeable now that it’s back than it did before I ever lost it. I’m still thankful that I stopped myself before I gained it all back, but I’ve gained enough to feel a significant shift. It’s incredibly visible too when I look at photos of myself from 2010, 2011, and 2012 compared to now. 

It’s easy to get frustrated, but that won’t yield any postive results. It’s just hard to recognize and admit that I don’t look or feel how I want to. I dress well, and I am well-groomed. I don’t feel ugly. In fact, I’ve been feeling kind of pretty a lot lately. (Thank you, GwynnieBee.) I’m just still aware of changes that I need to make. 

Life is so much better than it was a few years ago. I’m more content on the inside than I’ve ever been, but I also know that there’s more work to do on the outside. I’m glad I lost 4 pounds this week. Now I’m working toward being smaller next week, which has happened several times this year. 

I know that if I shed some of the excess I’ll feel better than I do now even though I don’t feel awful (yet.) I’d rather see the scale move down than move up, and it seems like the only way to make that happen is to go back to tracking everything that I put in my mouth. I started doing that when I started my new position, and it definitely makes me more congnizant of what I’m doing.

It’s incredibly frustrating, but I don’t hate myself for messing up so much of the work that I put into getting healthy. The truth is that I love myself enough to see my needs here and to change them. 

This road is a long and tedious one, but I’m still here…still not indulging in everything I want and recognizing that I spent far too much time trying to fill the gaping hole in my heart with food again last year. 

Now I’m focusing more on seeing myself the way God sees me, and I’m asking Him to be strong in my weakness. He promised to do that before I ever asked, and now I’m finally starting to take Him up on it in several areas of my life (including this one.)

I’m bigger than I want to be, and I’m working toward fixing that. It’s not my top priority, but at least it’s back in my top 5. I need to incorporate exercise back into my daily life, which means I may have to skip other things. (More on that later.)

I have a long way to go, but it feels like I’m moving in the right direction. 

Obesity and Energy Levels

I receive a lot of unsolicited advice about my “health,” and most of the time I appreciate it because people care enough to say something. It’s an important issue, but my size doesn’t accurately portray my energy level to many looking at me from a distance. 

Say what you want about my need to lose weight. That’s an undisputable fact, but I’m going to brag about my energy levels for a moment. 

I get up around 6 am during the week, and I’m up almost as early on Sunday mornings. Most days I’m away from home for more than 12 hours at a time. I’m gnerally not the “sit on the sofa while eating pizza while binging on Netflix” type, though I did make an exception for House of Cards. I’m the “wake up, hit the ground running, let’s smile because it’s finally time to be awake” type (at least most days.) 

I sleep well. When my head hits the pillow, it usually isn’t long until I’m dreaming. I typically feel rested when I wake up. I indulge in occassional Sunday naps, but it’s not a requirement…not even close. 

I have more energy and endurance than a lot of people who are much smaller than I am, but I don’t have as much as I had two years ago. This isn’t a post about comparing myself to other people because I don’t do that; this is about me. 

I’m aggravated with myself because I gained a significant amount of weight back, but I’m doing better. I’m consistenly eating less and making better choices. There’s a lot of room for improvement, but it’s been better for the last few months. 

My routine feels pretty solid now, but I need to exercise more than I do. I need to do it consitently because I know that it will lower my stress levels and increase my energy levels. It’s a win-win, so why am I struggling to do it? 

I’m busy from the time I wake up until the time I go to sleep. I enjoy everything I do, so rarely does it feel like burden. I’m thankful for that. I don’t prioritize my workouts, which is no secret here. I know that needs to change, which is also not a secret. 

I know that I need to continue taking steps in the a healthier direction. I’m doing that by cooking chicken in my slow cooker and bringing my lunch to work, making more time to get enough sleep, drinking water, and eating vegetables. I know that there’s so much more to do. 

I just find it a little frustrating (and silly) that people (though most of them mean well) spend their time and effort telling me how I should detox, or how I should do this or that because it will give me more energy, etc. It’s odd because those people (the recent ones) aren’t as healthy, balanced, or energized as I am. They’re just skinnier. 

I don’t offer a lot of unsolicited advice, but if I did, I’d start by suggesting that people offer less unsolicited advice. I’d follow that up with the need to recognize that our looks don’t always portray everything that’s happening on the inside. In fact, it rarely does. 

This isn’t something that I plan to lose sleep over. It’s just a little PSA for those well-intentioned, yet misguided folks. I’m okay. I could sugarcoat what I’m about to say, but it’s not intended to be mean:

If you’re talking about this with me and I yawn, it’s probably just because these talks bore me. Thank you for caring. Just take a bit more time to pay attention to the reality of my situation if you’re going to comment on it. I’m juggling my priorities right now, and I’ll keep trying to do better. 

—–

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. 

Collossians 3:17

Does God Care That I’m Fat?

There’s no commandment in The Bible that says, “Thou shalt exercise daily,” but there is definitely a commandment that says to put God first. I’ve been thinking about what that means as I continue to grow in my relationship with Him, and I find myself wondering whether or not I’m committing idolatry. The answer is most definitely yes, at least sometimes, and I want to change that.

Gluttony is a sin.  Too often I find myself overindulging and putting the desire to eat above my desires for other things – including God. I’ve had to repent over this more than once or twice, and it’s still a struggle that I deal with almost everyday.

Luckily, in Romans 8:38-39, it is clear that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future,nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God loves me even though I’m plus-size. Whew! I’m even more thankful for that than I am for His grace. It still amazes me when I think about how much Jesus loves me, and with that, I believe that He wants what’s best for me.

I don’t think that doing what is “best for me” means that I need to be a size zero. I don’t even think it means that I need to be a size 8, even though that would be cool. I’m not sure what it means in terms of precise numbers, but I know that some things still need to change.

It has been almost two weeks since I had a sugary drink from Starbucks. I committed to going 30 days without indulging in an iced caramel macchiato (or anything else that isn’t plain coffee or tea,) and it hasn’t been a difficult as I thought it would be. The lack of doughnuts in my life hasn’t been as difficult as I thought either, but there’s a lot more than I need to change.

Yesterday my friend, Tracey and I, had one of those awesome conversations about life that you can only have with people you trust completely, and she suggested asking God to give me the willingness to make better choices everyday. Maybe at some point I’ll have the courage to ask Him. Right now, in all honesty, I’m scared of failing and scared of succeeding.

I don’t know how God feels in regards to what I should weigh, but I do know that what He wants is all of me. He wants everything that I am – the good and the bad. It’s easier to give Him the good stuff because letting go of the tough stuff means having to trust Him. I’m working on that, but it’s not easy…not even a little bit.

When I look at myself through the lens of God’s character, I can only conclude that He wants me to put Him first – before caramel macchiatos, before doughnuts, before money, before relationships…He wants me to be healthy.

It’s always hard to admit how weak I am, but maybe that’s exactly what I need to do. My favorite passage in The Bible is 2 Corinthians 12:9, in which Paul says, But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

I guess that means that I need to embrace my weaknesses and continue to let God work in me. I know that I need to invite Him into this situation. That’s what prayer is, then I have to ask Him to give me strength to be who He wants me to be.

 

 

 

 

 

Skinny vs. Obese….

I’m a pretty good student.  Actually, I’m a stellar student, and today I almost threw that out of the window to walk out of class.  I attend an amazing university, and I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be here.

One of my classes this semester is focused on exercise and nutrition.  I was looking forward to this class because I’m so interested in health and wellness, and I feel as though I have a pretty good grasp on it.

Sadly, I’m not enjoying the class at all. It’s not because it’s difficult, nor is it uninteresting. It just fees horrible to be silently judged due to my size. It happens at times, but I can count on it happening every time I enter this class.

It’s hard to imagine that people still believe that obese people must eat fried chicken, Cheetos and Oreos for dinner after they spend the day being completely sedentary. Seriously, I know that stereotypes exist, but this is a class filled with bright minds. How can they possibly believe that all skinny people are healthy and obese people are lazy?

Being obese increases health risks. I get it. I’m not saying that people who weigh 300 pounds are healthy, but as someone who lost a sizable amount of weight, I know that I have decreased my chances of having a heart attack or stroke. My blood pressure is perfect, as is my good sugar and cholesterol. I exercise several times a week, and I eat fruits and vegetables.  I rarely spend more than a few minutes sitting on my sofa watching TV, and often times, I take the stairs instead of waiting for the elevator.

I eat more than I should if I want to lose weight, but I treat my body with more respect than many people I know who are smaller than I am. I know that it’s not a competition between me and anyone else, but when I sit in class listening to average sized people talk about the obesity epidemic while they eat Doritos, I get a little indignant.

It’s annoying to be judged so quickly and harshly, but it’s reality for those who weigh more than average. I know this better than most, yet I still find myself amazed and disgusted.

Are you/have you ever felt awkward because people were stereotyping people your size?

Omron Fitness Mamavation Steps Challenge: One Month Later

If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you probably know that I have spent the last month participating in a Mamavation challenge using an Omron Fitness pedometer.  You may also know that I have become mildly obsessed with counting my steps.

Omron Pedometer

The challenge has been a spectacular motivator for me because it required me to do more basic, yet effective cardio than I had been doing.  I’ve used that motivation to explore my neighborhood, my city and surrounding areas, and I’m happy to report that I feel better about my fitness goals than I have in months.

When I learned that I had been selected to be a paid to use the product and share my thoughts on it, I was excited, but I had no idea that I would love it as much as I do.  The challenge officially ended today, but you will still see daily updates as I continue to challenge myself to exceed 10,000 steps everyday.  I’d like to exceed my personal record (over 20,000 at some point in the next week as well.)

omron pedometer

Throughout the challenge, I was asked by many people whether or not I thought the pedometer was worth the money, and the answer is absolutely yes.  Uploading the info (which I only had to do once during the challenge) allowed me to track my progress, and it is awesome to see my work in numbers.  Another added benefit is that I lost 7.8 pounds during the challenge!

Over the last month I walked over 293,000 steps.  My personal record exceeded 20,000 steps, and there was only a couple of days in which I didn’t reach my goal.  I’m proud of myself for pursuing this goal and exceeding my expectations almost everyday.  I love that I can keep track of my information on OMronFitness.com, and I can’t wait to complete another successful month.

The official challenge ends today, but I wish it didn’t.  I’ve met some incredible people through the Mamavation community, and I’m pretty confident that we’ll continue to count our steps together.

Do you count your steps?  If so, what’s your daily goal?  How has it changed the that way you view fitness?

 

 

Disclosure: I was compensated for this post about the Omron TriAxis Pedometer through the Bookieboo Influencer Network and Mamavation, a disease prevention campaign for moms. All opinions are my own.