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Chapter 6 – “What’s Your Secret?”

Welcome back! If I hear it once a day I hear it ten times – “what is your secret to your weight loss?”  I wish I could tell you that there is some special secret, I really do.  This picture is from one of my favorite lifestyle clothing brands HTFU and it says it perfectly.  The secret does not exist.  Wanna know what it takes to change your body and your life?

There is no secret!

HARD WORK!!!  Discipline.  Dedication.

I’m going to lay it out for you, right here right now.  I started out lifting weights 3 times per week, a total body workout for the most part, as much as my knees would allow.  Cardio was 30 minutes at first, 5 times a week.  Keep in mind that I was coming from a completely sedentary lifestyle.  But I cannot stress this enough – it really isn’t about how much or how often you work out.  At most that’s 2 hours of your day.  AT MOST.

The key ingredient to success is NUTRITION.

I’ve heard the “formula” for success mentioned as 70% nutrition, 20% training and 10% rest.  Personally speaking, I cannot argue with that formula.  I was MORE than willing to do the workout part.  I loved it.  I was used to that from my time with my former trainer, and I loved being a strong woman.

I went kicking and screaming into the nutrition portion of that formula.  I hesitate a little bit to write what my nutrition plan was for literally the first YEAR of my transformation because every person is different, and mine was extreme to say the least (something most people don’t need to do!).  But my trainer knew that my body does not process starchy carbs well at all, so I had oatmeal at breakfast and 1/4 cup of rice (COOKED) at my 3rd meal of the day.  The rest of the day I had protein and veggies.  THIS was killer for the queen of pasta and rice, all things bread and chips.  Sugar hasn’t ever been my weakness but boy, starches were LIFE for me.

For basically one year, I kept to this meal plan.  We gradually increased my workouts until we ended up at 5 days per week lifting weights and 7 days a week with one hour of cardio.  My cardio consisted of an hour of incline treadmill walking.  My knees won’t allow for running or step mill, so we made the best of what I could do.  It’s ALL ABOUT EFFORT!!!!  I just had to really focus on the incline and pace.  Again, this is all credit to my trainer, who knew I had to work within my physical limitations.  I HATE cardio, but I knew I had to do it, so how did I make myself do 7 hours a week?

  1. New music!!!! I love music, so when one of my favorite artists (and there are a lot of them) comes out with new music, I won’t let myself listen to it until I get on the treadmill.
  2. I love doing my cardio while other people are working out – gives me something to watch that keeps me motivated!  I have a recumbent bike at home, but I much prefer to go to the gym so I can see other people working on themselves while I work on ME!
  3. Plain and simple – it’s all part of the plan.  I did not do it for the first several months (from April until July) and had no results.  Once I gave in and decided that the plan was there for a reason, I followed it to the tee and the results speak for themselves.
  4. Whether I wanted to or not, I religiously got up at 5am to work out before work EVERY DAY, and then I went back after work, even in the HOT summer.  You have to dedicate yourself to the process, no matter what.  This was the hardest lesson I had to learn.  I had to WANT IT MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE.
  5. One other thing to remember; I lost this weight by lifting a LOT of weight.  No tiny colored dumbbells for me.  I had to use my strength to help get this fat off of my body.  Lifting heavy weight will not make you look like a man I promise.  Consider the science: muscle burns more calories than fat!  True story.  So build that muscle ladies and gentlemen, and your weight loss will thank you for it.

Here is my transformation in video form:  from the very beginning to my NEW BEGINNING.

If I can do it, you can do it too.  You just have to go ALL IN.  I’m not even kidding.  You have to give up things sometimes that don’t contribute to your success.  I had to sell a lot of basketball tickets so that I could do my second workout of the day.  This was a choice I made, and you have to decide for yourself what you’re willing to give up in order to reach your goals.  No one can decide for you – that’s all you.  It’s HARD, it is tough.  It sucks sometimes.  HECK yes sometimes I wanted to have a cheat meal, or pizza, or a bagel when it was brought in for work breakfast.  But I wanted the new and improved me MORE!!!!

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Chapter 5 – Overcoming Obstacles and Excuses (And I am the QUEEN of Excuses)

Welcome back!  So far I’ve shared how I got started with my journey to transform my health, but now it’s time to get real and tell you some of the challenges and obstacles that really wanted to get in the way.  And you totally can let any one of them derail your mission, that’s the easy way out.  Let me tell you about my biggest obstacles and excuses and how I overcame them, and maybe somehow this can help you.

  1. I always, always, always said I could NEVER workout in the mornings.  I have chronic insomnia and my best sleep is usually from like 5-7am, so how can I get out of bed at 5am to get to the gym?But then in the same breath I said I couldn’t make myself get out of the house after a long day of work and coming home to take care of my pups. Looks like I’ve talked myself out of working out at all since I’ve taken away mornings and after work!
    • Terry wasn’t having any of my excuses.  We started out weight training 3 days a week in the mornings, period.  I had to just make it happen and I did.  As I progressed, it turned into 5 mornings a week and I just did it.  It was part of the plan, and I had to do it.
    • Eventually after I started following the process completely, I came back after work to do my cardio.  No excuses – yes, I was tired but I went home, played with the pups and fed them, and then got in the car to go do cardio.  Period.  That was the plan and I had to follow it.
  2. I hated grocery shopping, so to make it more tolerable, I LOVED to see the latest flavors of OREOS, potato chips, whatever the latest and greatest snack food that I saw in the commercial during whatever sports I was watching the night before.
    • To combat the temptations, I signed up for a grocery delivery service.  Made my list each week and had ONLY those items on my meal plan delivered straight to my house.  Never had to go to the grocery store again!  This was probably the single best thing I did to jump start my progress.
  3. I’m an almost 5o year old woman, my hormones have to be out of whack and I’m sure my metabolism is so slow I will never be able to lose weight.  My time for being in shape has long passed.
    • WRONG!  There is no age limit on getting in shape!  You can start ANYTIME, why not now?  You just have to find the right training plan and nutrition program for your body type and it can happen.  Oh yeah, and also you have to follow the process 110% 🙂
    • I am PROUD to say I’m an almost 50 year old woman who has managed to lose almost 80 pounds and completely changed my body as well as my health and outlook on life!
    • I want to inspire any woman of any age who has said she doesn’t have time, or that she can’t improve her health for whatever reason.  YOU CAN!!!!
  4. My knees are so sore and the arthritis is so bad I’m sure I can never do a good enough leg workout to get rid of these fat legs and shape a nice lower body.  It’s intimidating to see all these gorgeous ladies with their amazing legs and glutes, both online and in person.
    • Yeah so ok, I couldn’t do a full leg workout, big deal.  We started doing what I could do, and as I began to get in better shape, the things I could do pain free increased.  Imagine that!!!  I had written off everything just because I could only do a little.
    • Here is where I need to introduce you to the concept of “more than zero” because I have always had this perfectionist attitude.  “If I cannot do absolutely everything perfectly, then why bother doing it at all?”  Well – doing SOMETHING is far better than doing NOTHING.  More than zero is always better.  Argue with me- prove me wrong!! I dare ya, because you can’t.  That’s an absolute truth 🙂

Bottom line – you have to want a better you more than you’ve ever wanted anything else in your life.  It will be SO hard, and things will test you around every corner.  You will get tired, your body will be sore, you will want to just stay in bed, and you will swear you’d kill for a piece of pizza or key lime pie.  Or a bagel for breakfast – CARBS!!!  But then you will remember that all of that is short term pleasure that will only detract from your long term goal.  Motivation is great and there will be days when you wake up all about this process, and super fired up to do anything it takes, but when you find yourself lacking the motivation and desire to get up and go, you have to dig deep and find that DISCIPLINE that is critical to success.  If you asked me for the two most important things you will need to get through the difficult times (because there will be LOTS of them), it has to be discipline and dedication.

Don’t you ever try to tell me that something is impossible.

Will Smith

 

YES, this transformation has been the absolute hardest thing I have ever done – but also the most rewarding.  Why?  Not just because of the number on the scale, although that was something I never, ever thought I would see change as much as it has.  But mainly because I’ve overcome ALL of my excuses, and good lord I had millions of them.  I got out of my own way and just DID, and continue to do, because even though I’m a much better version of myself, I am not finished.  I will keep working because now I love the process and cannot wait to see what’s next.

One year anniversary at HardBody Fitness!
One year anniversary at HardBody Fitness! What a difference a year makes!
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Chapter 4 – The Process Begins but not without Resistance

Welcome back!  After my last post I can imagine you might be thinking about how you might not have the financial means to hire a trainer to work with one on one.  I’m not saying you have to hire a personal trainer to get your health back on track.  You most surely don’t!  It is so simple to just lace up those sneakers and take a walk, do some stretching in your floor at home, do some bodyweight exercises, make better choices food wise at each meal.  Yes – it is simple, if you have the discipline to do it.  I did not, and I knew for sure that I did not.  There are so many awesome resources available online for free if you can’t afford to work in person with a trainer – please do NOT let that stop you!!! I just knew from past experience and my current mental state that this was not something I could do alone.  The most critical key to success for me was realizing that this was bigger than something I could do by myself.

Pick the RIGHT Trainer for YOU (I will have a post about this coming up)

Terry Davis at Hard Body Fitness Personal Training has years of experience training phenomenal physique athletes for competition, both powerlifting and bodybuiliding.  He has athletes who have earned their pro cards in their sport, and he has “regular” people like me who just need to be healthy and happy again.  I had met my match in terms of stubborness and seeing through my smokescreens.  I had to eat some humble pie and start out with 3 days a week of total body training – I was still sticking to my “even though I’m out of shape I am an athlete!” story – and I was very upset about that at first, until I saw how far I really had fallen.  Being so overweight put incredible pressure on all of my joints and when we started, I could barely do even 2 exercises for a leg workout because of my bad knees.  Seriously – leg day was over pretty fast 🙂  He just kept saying “trust the process, let’s just take it one week at a time and go from there.”

TRUST Your Support System, They Really Do Believe in You!

It could have been intimidating to train around these gorgeous, amazingly fit women every day but let me tell you, it was exactly the opposite.  Everyone was so supportive and encouraging, and I hadn’t ever imagined having such a huge support system around me to keep me accountable.  They knew I was fighting for my life and my health and they were in my corner 110% even as they dieted and trained for their own competitions.  I’m telling you this so you will NOT be afraid or ashamed to express your goals.  Everyone is fighting some kind of battle, and trying to reach some dream of their own, so they understand how important yours is to you and they will keep pushing you to go as hard and as far as you can.  Find your tribe and you will be unstoppable!

The Process Only Works if YOU DO

From April until about July of 2016, I have to admit I did the minimum really.  I mean, it was far more than the zero effort I had been putting in but it wasn’t what was on the PLAN.  One day Terry asked me how much cardio I had been doing – I couldn’t lie.  So I joke to this day that I was put “on punishment” like a little kid in school.  He made me come back to the gym to do my cardio (even though I had another gym where I could go that was air conditioned!), saying he had to SEE me do it or it didn’t count.  See, someone caught onto my BS and I could no longer get away with it 🙂  I had paid for meal plans from so many people – and never followed them.  Just couldn’t make myself prep the food and eat healthy after enjoying the AMAZINGLY addictive world of fast food and takeout for so long.  STUBBORN!! Did I mention I am a Leo?

But it was time to go all in.  Progress was only going to happen if I followed the process 100%, not Pam’s way (which I tried for a few months) but the right way.  He was willing to put his all into my transformation so I had to do the same.  So the real process started in July 2016 when I finally put all the pieces together.  Image that – results started to follow!!!

Chipmunk cheeks getting smaller! #PROGRESS

 

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Chapter 3 – Officially “BEFORE”

Welcome back!  My decision was made.  I owed it to myself and my pups to give this thing called a healthy lifestyle a try.  My friends Terry and Cara Davis, and Vinson Smith had recently opened their own gym and personal training studio.  These are incredible people I have known for years in the bodybuilding and fitness world, and I was so scared because they really hadn’t seen me at my worst. Vinson has an amazing success story himself and I knew that I could feel safe working with these folks, so with my heard POUNDING, I made that first call to set up an appointment.  I was still in denial at how far off the path I had wandered until I walked through the door that first time and had to talk about where I was and where I wanted to go.

Terry talked to me hard core – real talk – about what it was going to take to get to where I hoped to be.  I could tell this wasn’t going to be a place for excuses because everyone here works HARD – no matter their shape, size or fitness level, everyone is all about WORK. This is what I needed – real talk, no bull.  I will never forget hearing this: “Let’s give it one year of everything you’ve got – no excuses, just work.  Can you give me one year to see how far we can go?”  I didn’t need to be coddled, I needed to be pushed harder than I ever thought I could be, and I needed for all of my excuses to be challenged.

This is me, at my worst, after my first workout in my new gym home. At my worst, but also at the beginning of being my very best because I had taken that first crucial step – I believed I was worth it, so I walked through the door and got to work.  Key takeaway: YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE YOU ARE WORTH IT! When you get there, nothing in the world is going to stop you.

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It’s Time! And, Is There Something That Might Be Holding You Back Just a Little, too?

For those of you who know me personally, you know that I struggle big time with CLUTTER! Books, journals, pens, just STUFF. And you will also agree that I struggle with getting rid of my clothes that no longer fit. I guess for a while, I was afraid the weight my gradually creep back as it always has before. I didn’t know this, but there really is such a thing as your mind taking time to catch up with your current weight and shape – I had been a size 18 for so long that sometimes I still see myself as that. Again, THERE IS NOTHING wrong with being a size 18 if you are happy there. I was not because I was not healthy at that weight and size.  It wasn’t the number that bothered me, it was how uncomfortable and tired I was.

CONFESSION:

Even as my weight has been coming down over the past year, I’ve been wearing my old clothes. I HATE shopping, and I used the excuse that I wanted to reach my goal first (inside thinking well I will be prepared if it comes back, as usual). I think every single one of us who has struggled with health and wellness has been through the “losing the same 10 pounds 100 times” cycle.

A friend of mine from the gym took me shopping a few months ago just to help me find a couple of outfits so I could be seen in public at social events (which I am doing my level best to learn to enjoy!). So I had that, and then of course workout clothes because I’m at the gym twice a day. And I am the QUEEN of online shopping for great deals on workout clothes, believe that! The gym has been the one place I felt confident enough to quit hiding finally. That took a LONG time.

WHY NOW?

I took a few days off of work to enjoy the long holiday weekend, and my staycation project is to bag up all of my clothes that no longer fit and get them ready to give away. IT IS TIME. Might sound kind of silly – why is it such a big deal, why haven’t I done it already, you might not even understand why I’m writing about it. It all goes back to accepting that I am in a MUCH better place emotionally and physically now than I honestly ever have been.

I can let go of the clothes I used to hide under because I’m not ashamed anymore. It is NOT just about the amount of weight lost – my whole transformation story is most importantly about how emotionally and mentally I am so much stronger because I took that first step, and I kept going, and now I’m letting nothing keep me from my goals and dreams.  Not until I surrounded myself with positive people who believed in me and encouraged me, and even challenged me to live outside of my comfort zone was I able to start to change.  I just couldn’t do it alone, and it’s perfectly ok to admit that sometimes we’re in over our heads.  I think that takes real strength – admitting you need help and then getting it.

MAKING ROOM FOR REAL HAPPINESS:

This isn’t just about goals in the gym or on the scale.  Going through this transformation has given me the confidence to pick up this blog again on a regular basis, and to take some writing classes online so that I can deliver better content to my precious readers who are kind enough to give me a few minutes of their time to read my posts.  I am getting my confidence back and I no longer have that ugly dark cloud following me everywhere.  Depression is serious, and I am so very thankful that my journey up to this point has helped me get mine under control.  Now I can genuinely enjoy making people laugh instead of using humor as a crutch, to keep people from noticing the me that I really didn’t like.

Once this project is finished, I might not have many clothes left but that’s ok.  I need to clean out that old part of my life to make room for the amazing new part!  I share this because maybe someone else out there is holding onto something from the past that could be keeping you from being as happy as you can possible be.  Let’s do this together!  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

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Chapter 2 – Am I Worth It? Am I Stronger than My Excuses? Will I FINALLY Decide to Change for ME?

 

Happy Monday, and here’s to the start of a fantastic week.  Since my first chapter has been out there for a little while, I started thinking that I don’t want to come across as a victim in all aspects of what landed me here.  Yes, I have been a victim of emotional and physical abuse, but looking back, I had complete control over how I chose to react to everything that happened to me.  Circumstances do happen to us, but WE choose how to react, and we choose how to handle them and not let them ruin our lives.  Yes, it sucked when I got laid off, it was so sad when two of my pups passed away – but I had to choose how to handle these things.

I worked with a friend of mine who is a career coach (Denise Sutter, I can never thank you enough), and we focused on getting the best ME out there for the business world to see. It paid off because I ended up finding a fantastic opportunity on an amazing team where I am learning what it’s like to be appreciated, my work valued and it’s an overall positive environment.  I did some volunteer work for a phenomenal dachshund rescue organization and have been able to enjoy seeing my 7 rescue pups run  happy and healthy every day. Chapman’s Dachshund Rescue

At this point, it was time to tackle the elephant in the room so to speak.  Of course I knew my weight was out of control, not only because of the scale but mainly because of how I FELT.  Everything hurt and I was all I could do to have enough energy to get through the day.  I had a heart to heart talk with myself, and came to a crossroads: was I going to keep going like this and being miserable, or was I going to take action and give it my absolute best attempt to gain control and get my life back?

What was my catalyst?  It is hard to write this but I made the decision to take action when I saw the number on the scale go over 200 pounds.  As long as I had stayed under there (no matter if it was just barely), I could deny that I had to do anything.  But there it was.  207 pounds to be exact.  I’m 5’2.  Yes, it was about the number but more than that, I hated how I felt – I had no energy for my precious pups and I just couldn’t even deal with living life – I did the bare minimum to exist (work, ate takeout!). Wore clothes that looked terrible on me but I felt like they did ok at hiding my shame.  The only person I was fooling was myself.

Now, I’m not saying I was ashamed of my weight, I was ashamed at how far I had fallen from where I had once been.  I don’t want anyone ever to feel ashamed of themselves for a number on the scale, EVER!!! Society is more than hard enough on us without us doing it to ourselves too. Each and every one of us has to decide when we are ready – NO ONE can make the decision to change for you.  NO ONE can tell you when the time is right because your situation is unique.  I do know one thing for certain – while everyone of us is different, our excuses for not starting, not taking that first really difficult step… our excuses are ALL THE SAME.

I’m not going to list them all because each of us can recite the list from memory, am I right? 🙂 I knew them all and had multiple rationalizations for all of them.  But the day came like I said where I made the decision to TRY – just try.  I was able to see through the fog of depression to realize that I was worth the try.  It was time to just try. If you’ve never been there, it seems so easy, but if you have, you know that first step is paralyzing. But only if you allow it to be. 

Don’t worry – as soon as I get all the background out here so you know where I started from, I will get into specifics I promise.  Please let me know what questions you have and what you want me to write about in upcoming chapters, because this is for YOU!  I love you all, and thank you so much for taking the time to be here and read my story.

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Rise of the Phoenix Chapter 1 – How I Got to my “BEFORE”

This first post is a bit of a struggle..how far back do I go and how much info to include so you don’t get bored and stop reading.  So I will just dive in and then YOU can ask questions and let me know what you might want to read more about.  Setting the stage will be the longest chapter but I want to share ME with you so you know the good, bad and ugly.  This has never been told before and I am very scared to put it out there.

Way way back in my 20s and even early 30s I was in amazing physical shape – but emotionally I was a wreck.  Eating disorders, unhealthy relationships and intense pressure to stay thin to keep those relationships alive.  I am sure this story is all too familiar. I found myself in abusive relationships, very scary ones and situations that I am blessed to have survived.  I am VERY fortunate to be here today telling you this story.

Domestic violence changes perspective on things for sure, but I didn’t get my independence from that for a while.  I still had terrible self esteem – the victim always thinking if I’d done this or not done that, if I hadn’t gotten injured and gained a few pounds, and probably the worst one: if I hadn’t stood up for myself none of this would have happened.

Fast forward to the only relationship I’ve had in the last couple of decades.  When it ended, someone who was supposed to be my support system and be there for me at least for the initial shock of 5 years of my life with someone coming to an end, this is what I got.  “Well that’s really sad but you had to know it was coming.  He’s younger than you so of course he wants someone prettier, thinner and more successful.”  Now, maybe those words needed to be said at some point and I’ve never needed to be coddled but that hurt.  And to this day I have not gotten involved in another relationship because my confidence was destroyed over time, hearing things like this from people who were supposed to care.

SOOOO – here’s what happened next and continued until about a year ago.  I ate, I faded away from life.  Clearly no one wanted me around so I withdrew from life.  I did try to work out with my wonderful trainer at the time, Michael Anders.  I am so thankful for him because he gave me a reason to show up and try to better myself.  I just couldn’t go all in and commit emotionally and physically.

Some time ago I was laid off from a company I had been with for over 8 years at the time.  Shortly after that two of my beloved dachshunds passed away exactly 6 weeks apart.  I got scared because I couldn’t snap out of this, not this time.  I ate more, whatever I wanted because I was sad. Chinese food sounded great, it made me happy. Same with pizza – why not, my favorite food and life sucked so ….

I did come out of my funk long enough to see my doctor to talk about depression. I had to admit I needed help because clearly I wasn’t gonna kick this by myself.  I had stopped going to the basketball games I loved and I hid from life because I didn’t want ANYONE TO SEE ME!! I look back at pictures that I was forced to be in and while my face might be smiling, it never made it to my eyes.  

I will leave you with this to think about for next week:  what was my catalyst to FINALLY make a change and take back my life?  First step in the process was admitting I had depression and getting help for that.  From there, I could see things a little more clearly and realized HOLY WOW I am a huge hot mess right now!  Time to get it together Pam.  Stay tuned.

And stay PAWSITIVE!!! Thanks for coming with me.

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Transformation is SCARY and Painful, not Pretty and Bright. But SO WORTH IT!

This picture came from one of my favorite FaceBook pages “Bruised But Not Broken” and reposted with permission.

https://www.facebook.com/Bruised-But-Not-Broken

Tomorrow will be the first chapter of my story and I am so excited and nervous to share with you all.  There are millions of transformation stories out there, but hopefully since you know ME, you might find something you can relate to and take away that can work for you if you need to change something in your life.  I have put off writing it because SO many people do and why should mine matter?  But you know what, it does.  It matters because you all have been with me through the whole process.

This quote says it all to me. Transformation is NOT sweet and bright, at least for me it hasn’t been.  It has been very dark and painful, because before you can change something, you have to challenge it and understand its role in keeping you down.  I will tell you: It’s scary as hell to dive in head first and make the TOUGH painful decisions that have to be made.  I had to remove toxic relationships from my life even though everyone felt like they should tell me how wrong I was for that.  I had to accept my depression, acknowledge that I couldn’t fight those demons alone and get the help I needed so that I could grow.  I think this is why most people never start.

Who among us WANTS to turn our lives inside out, really figuring out what it is that holds us back? We talk about wanting to do this but making ourselves go through the actual process SUCKS.  But in order to affect positive change in our lives, we have to face the painful truths, the harsh realities, and accept ownership of the things we constantly do to sabotage ourselves.  Yes, most of your current situation that you’re unhappy with is actually your own fault. (This was me talking to me).

The hardest part is the start – we can think about it, talk about it, stress over it… and that can paralyze us.  It did me for YEARS – I couldn’t decide which way was up, which way was out of the darkness.  So I have a homework assignment for you – you might not need to do a dramatic weight loss/wellness type of transformation, but maybe there is something you are dying to change.  Figure out what that is and what is stopping you.  Then come with me while I continue working on me, and we’ll figure out HOW TO GET YOU THERE!

 

 

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