This original story was shared by TLMN Sara Hood.
MORE POUNDS, MORE PROBLEMS
“You look good, but don’t gain more weight.”
Despite being a fit teenager that played basketball in high school, a relative made a comment about my figure that made me even more conscious of my curvy body shape. It put me on notice that I was always one cheeseburger away from being undesirable, which was a dilemma because I freakin’ loved cheeseburgers.
When I went to college at the University of Missouri, that’s when it all took a turn. In college, in the Midwest, it was cool and kinda sexy to be thick. So, I embraced it, possibly too much. What they call the “Freshman 15” turned into a “Freshman 32” as I quickly picked up weight.
By my 2nd year I started working overnights at Walmart, and that’s when I really started eating bad. I’m talking fast food 5-6 times a week. I gained 60lbs in 6 months!
Plus, I began dating a football defensive lineman who needed to gain weight. So, my thinking was “Who am I not to be an “all-in” team player” – right? I became a loving supportive girlfriend, happily working with him at his craft…particularly at the breakfast, lunch and dinner table.
I began truly living the life of a D1 college football lineman. Keep in mind I’m a 5’3 female, so my eating habits became disastrous. I recall being able to eat an entire CiCi’s pizza in one sitting. It really got out of hand when my clothes didn’t fit anymore, and I started wearing my 290lb boyfriend’s clothes all the time!
I’ll never forget, I went to a Jenny Craig facility and stepped on the scale. When I saw I was 160lbs, I cried and ran out.Sidenote: As women I don’t know why we do this. We complain about our weight in high school, college, but then guess what – we never see those numbers again, lol. If I knew later on I would hit 220lbs, I would’ve never complained about 160lbs – which believe it or not is my happy weight now!
I knew I had to get my weight under control. So eventually I decided to get serious about my fitness journey and lost 15lbs. I was so excited, and then guess what happened, 2 months after starting my steady workout regimen?
I FOUND OUT I WAS PREGNANT!
Even though I was 200lbs, luckily I only gained 18lbs during my pregnancy because I kept working out. For any pregnant expecting mothers reading, working out during your pregnancy is the best. You feel really good! It helps with strengthening your back and core, which are at their weakest during pregnancy. You can also work on areas of your body that help with delivery.
HEARTBREAK TIPPING POINT
During my pregnancy with my 1st son, my hopes turned to heartbreak when the doctor told me there was a strong chance he would be an extreme special needs child. This stressed me out during my entire pregnancy. As I was giving birth, all I could do was constantly pray for a healthy baby. However at six months old I knew something was wrong when he started missing milestones and a couple years later he was diagnosed with autism.
Immediately after giving birth however, I didn’t feel well.
I was light-headed, out of breath, gray, and tired all the time. I just attributed it to becoming a new Mom. However, something much more detrimental was happening. My body was shutting down because it was overcompensating from not enough blood flow.
Six days later I experienced a heart attack at only 23 years of age. The doctors discovered I had a slow heart rate. Having a slow heart rate is great for a marathon runner at 110lbs, but not for a new mom at 220lbs. The combining stress factors from a bad diet, being overweight, stressing out about my new baby, taking new medications, and a slew of other things contributed to the perfect storm for a heart attack – even at such an early age.
The turning point was the day I remember looking at my Dad who was so sad and concerned. I made a promise to him and myself that I would get healthy. My weight would not be the cause for why I end up back in a hospital.
Fitness became mandatory because ultimately I WANTED TO LIVE! I wanted to live for my kids, and just as importantly ME. After a full recovery, I committed to a five day/week workout regimen, 2 hours a day, and eventually lost 60lbs.
SHAPING MY DREAM BODY INTO MY DREAM LIFE
My first step to a healthy new me was fixing my diet. When I began my new workout regimen, I committed to eating only salad and chicken breasts for almost an entire year. 10 months to be exact, before I found out I was preggo…again! However, my 2nd pregnancy went so well because I was in much better shape.
When launching my newfound commitment to fitness, I started off doing something that I enjoyed. Instead of running which I despised, I took a Zumba and a spin class 5 days a week for an hour – sometimes doing the classes back to back. I did not start off lifting heavy, but I did incorporate weightlifting. I knew I needed weights to tone and create definition. I wanted to convert my curves to a defined coke bottle shape – and weights were the key.
Before seeing the physical changes, I began feeling the incredible emotional changes to my new workout commitment. The same way people catch a high from other substances, I caught a natural high from working out. This high led to a much higher self-esteem and self-worth.
Now what turned me into a fitness savage is when I realized the weights I was lifting was not typical for a woman. I was able to squat 225lbs and bench 135lbs, when I was only 150lbs. I believe every woman has a “superpower” they can discover about their body in the gym. It might be strength, flexibility, endurance, or something else very unique that God created an advantage for you with.
I also discovered that on this journey to max fitness for myself, I was also uncovering workout gems that were transferable for other women shaping their bodies too. When I helped my friend get stronger through my workouts, it was confirmation that I knew what I was doing.
BETTER MIND, BETTER BODY, BETTER MOMMY
What has my fitness journey taught me as a woman, and as a mother?
THAT I AM POWERFUL! I CAN DO ANYTHING! I CAN PUSH ANYTHING OFF MY CHEST, AND I CAN LIFT UP ANYTHING PULLING ME DOWN!
The mind-body connection and mind-over-body empowerment that’s required in fitness can be applied to life. You learn through fitness that the body will do whatever the mind tells it to do. So, when I discovered my mind was stronger than my body – that meant I could make it through any challenge and do ANYTHING! The mind is so powerful! Everything you tell yourself in the mirror manifests. So, when I learned how to gain control of my mind, I gained control of every aspect of my life.
Fitness allows me to be less stressed, more centered, more focused, and more patient. When I take care of me, I’m a much better mother! That ME time and self-care is mandatory. I can’t take care of my kids at 100% capacity if I’m not taking care of me. So, when I get a good workout in and get those good vibes circulating all throughout my mind, body and spirit – I’m ready to take on the world. I’m much more confident in every room I walk in – from the boardroom, to the parent-teacher meeting classroom, to the full body mirror with nothing but curvaceousness sexiness staring back at me in the bathroom!
Knowing I’m a mom and savage in the gym makes me feel like such a confident badazz! This empowering mind, body and spirit energy constantly fuels me to pursue crushing all my life dreams!