172. 158. 145. 164. 153.
You may wonder what all of these numbers have in common. Each represents a time in the last few decades where the morning scale set the tone for the day – disappointment, joy, frustration, self-loathing, unhappiness.
More often than not I have relegated myself to Monday morning promises only to be downtrodden by mid-week repeating the same cycle of disappointment week after week, month after month, year after year. Working out for an event or an outfit motivated how I ate and if I worked out. In a vicious cycle of rewarding for achieving short-term goals, the numbers on the scale continually fluctuated while a little more of my self-confidence chipped away.
Ask me about any diet promising svelte hips and trim arms. Most likely I’ve tried it and failed. Grapefruit diet, Nutrisystem, Scarsdale, Hollywood diet, Jenny Craig – I even drank just lemon juice mixed with cayenne pepper and maple syrup for three very long days! All were short term fixes.
Then I had a daughter.
Allowing a number to define me not only robbed my joy, but it would ingrain upon my little girl’s mind that this was a normal way to live. After either being pregnant or nursing an infant since 2008, plus hitting 40 in that time, the announcement for the 2014 Gold’s Gym Challenge caught my eye. Now planning on doing and actually doing are two totally different things. Hence, why I took my “before” photos at a gym way across town and not at my location the day prior as I found every excuse not to make it in time the day of signing up.
Getting past taking the “before” photos was an obstacle, but come to find out not my biggest one. The photographer offered to show me my picture, but all I could do was decline as I re-dressed in my baggy sweats and bolt out of the room . . . right in to measurements.
The kind trainer who took my measurements was so reassuring, even as she saw tears streaming down my face. Numbers don’t lie. I’d been haunted by numbers for years and here on a piece of paper I saw how out of shape and unhealthy I was. It occurred to me to beg for my money back, change my mind, run away. But instead I promised myself that I would do my best for my daughter’s sake so when I returned for the “after” pictures in 12 weeks, no matter what, I would be proud that I had learned a few things. And boy did I!
If photos and measurements were outside my comfort zone, then GFit and going out on the weight room floor with a trainer was an utter foreign concept. It took all of my nerve to attend that first 5:15 AM GFit class. Then it took all of my will just to finish it! Here I was unsure of what a burpee was – but expected to do 50 by the end of class. But what world class instructors I was blessed to learn from and be encouraged by every step of the way. From tips on form to asking me how the Challenge was going or sharing with me how protein plays such a part in leaning out, I felt like I had a team cheering me on.
The GFit Facebook page became a place to laugh or commiserate together about that day’s workout. In a very short period of time I was working out with friends. And with that encouragement came the stamina to knock out those burpees or try out the bodypump and spin classes.
A few weeks in I decided to really go for it and the trainers helped explain nutrition and how I needed to eat more to feed my growing muscles if I wanted to focus on body fat instead of body weight. So for nine weeks I literally ate the same thing every day so that I knew every few hours I was refueling and re-training my metabolism to work for me. While caring full-time for three kids ages 4, 2 and 1 years old, I had to plan my workouts and meals the night before with precision. However with an introduction to high-intensity interval training, training sessions that created a love for lifting and eating to fuel my body instead of punish it, the girl who allowed a scale to define her day suddenly liked being stronger and fitter.
The day I weighed what my weight on my driver’s license states – or as I used to say my “suggested” weight – I literally shrugged and laced up my sneakers to head to the gym. What I used to hold dear as an ideal number was simply just a number. And you know what? When I went in for my “after” pictures and measurements, I actually weighed less than that magical number from decades past.
Additionally I was more excited about my body fat percentage and my hip/waist measurements drastically improving from when I had started in tears just 12 weeks ago. I teared up again, but it was from sheer joy that being fit is the best gift you can give yourself and your loved ones.
I am still at the gym, in fact I lifted at 5 AM today and you know what? That now sets the tone of my day – I smiled all the way home after increasing my lifting weight. Last week my little girl said “Look Mommy, your muscles grew! I’m so proud of you.” And that is better than any silly number on a scale. That is my success.
Thank you for this Challenge and the chance to change not only my destiny but my daughter’s too.