How old are you?
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’ve struggled with weight my entire life and could “blame” it on a number of things (e.g. childhood trauma, addiction, unhealthy role models with regard to nutrition and exercise, culture, etc.) but the bottom line is as adults, we have choices. I’ve always loved fitness and things that are physically and mentally challenging. I’ve lost and gained weight a few times, but have never figured out how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. So, fitness has always been both intriguing and intimidating to me.
Do you remember the moment that you said “that’s it. I need to make some changes?”
I do. It was the week of my 50th birthday. My husband and I were at Disney World. I was almost 200 lb and absolutely miserable. I was on two blood pressure medications, along with medication for anxiety, depression, and prescriptions to help with sleep. I was getting steroid injections in my back a couple of times per year and I knew I was on my way to an early grave. My blood pressure was sky high before we left and my doctor was worried about the travel and the rides. I am a roller coaster junkie and was devastated at the thought of not being able to go on the rides. This may sound vain, but I couldn't find anything to wear that was fun, comfortable, and that I felt good in. My back was giving me fits and I just didn't feel good at all -- physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. The trip showed me all of that!
You have had quite the journey the last 3 years. How much weight have you lost? Have much muscle have you added?
I’ve lost 70 lb. Give or take 5 lb depending on cheat meals, holidays, etc. I’m not sure exactly how much muscle I’ve added, maybe about 4 lb.
Tell me about your very first workout?
At 200 lb. it was not easy. I bought a few pieces of equipment so I could workout in my living room. I didn’t want to be seen in a gym. I ordered an online program to follow and I had to modify every single exercise. I barely lasted 15 minutes the first workout. I remember after feeling great that I had started something so I was excited. I also felt frustrated that it was so super hard. I felt hot, sweaty, flushed, out of breath and afraid that I would give up, but determined to do it again the next day.
Did you ever want to quit in the beginning?
Every day I entertained the idea of quitting, but it was always followed by imagining how the rest of my life would go and I hated that idea!
Why do you think it didn’t “stick” before and it did this time?
I have tried working out before this. I think there are several reasons it didn’t stick. First, the nutrition model I was using was not sustainable. That’s the most important thing. Then there were a couple of times I hit my “goal weight” and never had a maintenance/lifestyle plan. I always made the mistake of thinking I needed to hit a certain number on the scale, rather than replace unhealthy habits with new ones.
Have you seen changes in your health since you started your journey?
So many changes! It’s almost unbelievable! I’m off all of the many prescriptions I was taking. No more steroid injections. I sleep much better. I have way more energy and I’m more focused. These are just a few of the positive changes I’ve seen.
What’s a normal training day look like for you now?
I LOVE training! I usually get up around 3 a.m. Crazy, I know, but that time of the day is not a time when I’ll be interrupted. My plans don’t get changed when I make them that early. I lift for 45-60 minutes and then 5 days a week I add about 30 minutes of cardio. I train with a trainer once a week, which is so incredibly helpful!
What is your most vivid memory during your fitness journey?
Oh gosh, there are so many. But, getting rid of all the medication was HUGE! That was incredibly empowering to know that I had the ability within myself to do that. What a gift to my body!!
What have you learned about yourself?
With a history of addiction, it was really important for me to work with a coach. Someone who could teach me about nutrition and exercise and that I had to be accountable to. I used food for all the wrong reasons throughout my life. Other lessons I’ve learned are that I have choices and that my health and fitness are products of those choices. I’ve learned that if I make a poor choice, it’s not the end of the world. I pick back up right where I left of. I don’t give up. I’ve learned to be adaptable (that’s a big one for me) and I’ve learned that I can do hard things!
What’s your biggest struggle today with your fitness?
I’ve spent so much of my life obese that I still worry every day about falling off the wagon. I’ve been terrified and obsessed with that, but it’s getting better. If the scale goes up, I don’t freak out every time. I know that my weight will fluctuate and that’s only one measurement. It’s a struggle I work on constantly.
When you feel you are struggling....what is the self-talk you use to get through it?
I remind myself where I came from. I tell myself I’m worth it (whatever “it” might be). I remind myself that I’m strong and resilient and that I’m lucky enough to have choices. I run through and weigh the options in front of me. Sometimes I make a good choice and sometimes I don’t. But I don’t get derailed.
In your own words, who is an athlete?
An athlete is someone who trains with intention and purpose.
What’s up next in Brenda’s journey?
I’ll continue working with my coach and trainer. I plan to take the next year to focus on building muscle and hopefully will compete again in 2021.
What advice do you have for other females over 35 looking to get started?
I want women who struggle with their weight/health to know that it’s never, ever too late to make a change. You just need to start! Start small if you have to, but don’t wait. Set small goals and do at least one thing every single day that moves you in the direction of your goal. That could be hitting your water goal, getting to bed on time, parking farther away from the door, taking the stairs, be creative. Make your health and fitness a priority every day!