Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Inspire 4 Life Fitness Testimony

When I stepped into the Inspire 4 Life studio back in January 2012 to take my very first Zumba class, I was so unsure of how the class was going to go. I was intimidated, I was nervous, I was scared. Laurie Carroll was the instructor and she made me feel welcome and comfortable. That is hard to do for an overweight person stepping into a “gym” for the first time in a long time. But I honestly wasn't scared or nervous to go to another class after that. I was family.

Laurie, Bobby, and Carlos have inspired me, and many others, to either start a journey towards health and fitness or encouraged us in the journey we are currently on. I was honored and privileged to be chosen as the first transformation winner this past summer. I went through 6 weeks of hard-core workouts and nutritional counseling with Bobby, Carlos, and Laurie. Each of them told me they were going to step it up for me. They felt a desire and obligation to do that for me. Yes, that meant harder workouts, but it also meant that really care about my end result. It means that they are concerned about where I go from here. During those 6 weeks of the transformation, I lost a total of 13.25 inches and 39lbs! I have developed more of a drive for exercise, fitness, and healthy living through working out at Inspire 4 Life.

I am no athlete by any stretch of the imagination, but I am eating healthier and exercising more thanks to Inspire 4 Life Fitness. The instructors and trainers are so excited about fitness. They keep me accountable. They are very supportive and encouraging. They love sharing their passion and helping people reach their fitness goals. My thoughts and feelings about "working out" and "fitness" have completely changed since I started taking classes at the studio. It is amazing. When I started, there were so many things that I COULD NOT do. I couldn't even make it through an entire song at Zumba class without being winded and having to stop. Now, I can make it through the whole class, minus real water breaks! I couldn't walk a mile without stopping. Now, I have done 3 5k races and have plans to do more. The first one, I did stop a couple of times; the second one I didn't stop at all; and the third I actually ran some! I couldn't do pushups, let alone even think about doing planks, burpees, suicide drills, mountain climbers, etc. But now, I can do it all! I still have to modify, but I can do it -- all since starting at Inspire 4 Life Fitness.

Laurie Carroll

Laurie is so positive and enthusiastic. She has a true passion for fitness and it shows in each of her classes and personal training sessions. Every time I walk into her classes, she pushes me to do things I didn’t think I could do. I have been able to increase my weight-lifting abilities through her classes. She introduced me to Paleolithic eating which has furthered my weight-loss. Laurie has been there to answer so many of my questions and keep me focused on my journey. She accepted me in her Zumba class and has never judged me. She keeps me excited to exercise. Laurie’s dedication and commitment to health and fitness is contagious.

Bobby Campbell
I started working with Bobby during the transformation experience. He has a real heart for helping people lose weight and get into a fitness routine. He helped me get back into lifting weights. Every single workout I have had with Bobby has pushed me beyond my limits. Bobby takes time to make sure I am hitting my goals and keeping with my journey, even outside his classes. We did a 5k together in September and after he finished and recovered, he came back to make sure I finished ahead of a goal I had set for myself. When he could see “pain” in my face, he encouraged me to go a little bit longer. He instilled in me that “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” I will never forget that.


Carlos Johnson
Carlos has been a great coach and supporter for me. He helps with the nutritional Inspired! meeting at the studio and has been pivotal in my food journey. He keeps it real and gives me tips and tricks on changing habits and thinking. His passion is to help people get fit and stay fit. Carlos goes above and beyond to motivate and encourage me to work harder. He has helped me realize that I'll never know what I'm capable of until I push beyond my limits. His workouts are intense and I never thought I would run like he has made me do. But anytime I can’t do an exercise or move, he helps me adapt it to what I can do. There are no excuses with him.

I have been blessed with these fantastic instructors/trainers that have helped me along my way. Each of them has so much knowledge and eagerness to share and I am honored that they share it with me. Every time I start to get discouraged, one of them is there to pick me up and push me a little farther. They have most certainly been advisors and coaches, but more importantly they have become friends and confidants.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Go For Your Goals

I trust you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We definitely enjoyed the time spent with our family and missed those that weren't able to be with us this year. I was actually able to stick with a Paleo meal for our Thanksgiving meal. We do breakfast for Thanksgiving, so it wasn't as difficult as a traditional meal would have been. It was hard though because I love some biscuits and gravy, especially chocolate gravy! But I stayed away from all that and enjoyed a cranberry orange muffin that I had left over from the Color Run weekend. It was yummy! :)

I didn't think I would be able to meet my goal of 11 Paleo meals for Thanksgiving week, but I did. I was able to hit 12 again! I am probably going to stick with this goal for the rest of the year and then change it up to adapt Paleo a little more full force. My trainer, Laurie, shared an article about people’s difficulty in making Paleo a full lifestyle and some suggestions to make it a little more manageable. At the beginning of the year, I plan to do all Paleo with the exception of one thing per day. Most days right now I am doing 2 Paleo meals per day so it won’t be as difficult to add that other meal in there; especially knowing I have that one exception that won’t thwart the whole plan.

After my confessional with Jessica and my trainers, they have really been keeping me on track and accountable. Jessica constantly asks me how I’m doing with my goal. My trainers cracked down on me and said they would make me run (jog intervals at least) if I had bad stuff in my journal when they checked it at our Inspired! meetings. This Thursday, they had to review my journal for 2 weeks, which included the Color Run weekend and Thanksgiving. It wasn't as bad as it was or it could have been, but they still pointed all the bad stuff out and told me I would have to do 12 laps around the building. Laurie did help in giving me some tips and suggestions on what to do in some of the situations like I was in. She also bargained with me and told me I could do an hour on the elliptical instead of running around the building. I was “happy” about that but still very nervous.

I haven’t used the elliptical in years and when I did try it then, I couldn't last 5 minutes without getting out of breath and stopping (and not continuing). I did actually try the elliptical the Friday after Thanksgiving. I woke up with a goal to get to the gym and go as long as I could on it to see my progress. Much to my own surprise, I did a 16 minute mile on the elliptical that day!! I think I could have gone a little bit longer, but I still wanted to lift so I didn't want to completely tire myself out. All that being said, I knew this hour was going to be a HUGE thing for me. I have never lasted that long on an elliptical (or done that long on a treadmill either) and never imagined I would be able to. Based on my time from Thanksgiving, I knew it would equate to about 4 miles. I haven’t walked that far EVER! My 5ks are only 3.1 miles – that’s the farthest I've done. I mean, I've walked for an hour straight before during my 5ks, but this is different. This is a machine that works my legs and feet in a different form and fashion than traditional walking. But I knew I had to do it. I ate the food, and I had to pay the price. I set out for the gym yesterday, still nervous as crap cause I didn't know if I would honestly be able to last that long. Bobby gives me a little encouragement when I get to the gym. I set my playlist ready to tackle this upcoming hour and head to the elliptical. Not even thinking about it, I chose a program that was only 30 minutes long. I didn't even realize it until I was about halfway into the program. But I told myself it was okay – I would just do 2 of them. I finished up the first one and took a pic of my time/miles. I got off and stretched my legs a bit then got right back on. Set the program back up ready to go my next 30 minutes. I think that actually helped me a bit, knowing I just had to go 30 minutes each time. It broke it up mentally for me. Nevertheless, it was 60 minutes total and I made it!!!! My time, with cool down, was 63:06 and I went 4.02 miles! I didn't know if I would be able to do it or how I would feel afterward, but I felt good. My legs were a little wobbly, but not too bad. I did a couple sets of curls and overhead tricep extensions afterward too. If I was smart, I would have lifted beforehand. But anyway – LOL! I did it, I felt amazing and so accomplished!!

I thank God for the progress I have made thus far in my journey and can’t wait to see what happens next. Doors are constantly opening for me to share my accomplishments and struggles. I am excited to see where He leads me and what doors He opens next! What has kept me going this far is remembering the reason I started this journey. So if you’re struggling with staying on track. Ask yourself: Why did I start? Remember your reasons! If it matters to you, you’ll keep going. If not, you’ll give up!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


The past couple of weeks have really been a roller coaster for me. I have not been as dedicated to my eating as I should be. It hit me after I stepped on the scale 2 weeks ago. I didn't hit the goal I had set for myself for the past month. Automatically I start thinking about and reflecting on why I failed....

I had been eating too much junk and carb-loaded foods. Some of it was little things, but little things add up! No one really knew what was going on; I really didn't even realize what I was doing. It was almost like I was subconsciously sabotaging my weight-loss. But I finally woke up and realized what was happening. I knew I was on a slippery slope and I had to make the CONSCIOUS decision to stop. I literally had a confessional with my BFF/accountability partner Jessica on Wednesday of last week, and then with my trainers on Thursday. It was tough, but I knew it had to be done. The more people that knew meant more people that could keep me accountable during this phase of my journey.

After my confessionals, I decided to make weekly goals for myself with my food. Last week I made a goal of making sure at least 1/2 of my weekly meals (11 meals) followed the Paleolithic lifestyle. I made it -- I had 12 Paleo meals last week! This week, I have the same goal. It's going to be a little tougher with Thanksgiving, but I'm determined to make it! I HAVE to make it!

This little bump in the road really made me think about where I came from and the progress I have made. Before, my life was all about the junk and carb-loaded foods! I didn't care at all what I ate. I loved my bread, sweets, chocolate, cake, fried foods.....I loved it all. I still enjoy chocolate, but a more natural version and not every day! I still enjoy muffins, breads, cakes, etc - but grain and gluten free! I still enjoy foods that I love, but in a healthier way.

I know my blogs here lately have been about my journey thus far. This Thanksgiving season has really brought be to a point of reflection. I am so very thankful for the opportunity God has given me to turn my life around. It's hard to look back at just over a year ago and see the road I was headed down. I look a pictures and can't believe the difference. I can't believe how a year changes things! I can see the difference in my pictures, but sometimes I don't feel it. I mean, I feel the healthy difference, but can't always feel the "weight" difference. I hope that makes sense.

I hit a snag in the road and begin to doubt things. It's not pretty! But then I get reassurance from people around me that I am doing such a good job, that they are proud of me, that I'm an inspiration to them. It renews my confidence and determination for this journey I am on. Then I try on an XXL t-shirt that I was for sure wouldn't fit, but IT DID!

my XXL shirt!! :)

I begin to look at pictures from when I first started and realize that I am making progress. No matter how I "feel," my body is changing -- for the BETTER! I remember why I am on this journey. I can't go back down that road. I can't go back to where I was. I will die if I do. There will be ups and downs, but it is so worth it! I will one day be the person I know I'm meant to be. In the meantime, I will enjoy this journey and keep pushing forward.

What a difference!!
January 5k (time 71:40) vs November 5k (time 59:30)

OH! I just realized I haven't even told you about the Color Run 5k I did this weekend! OH EM GEE!!!! It was SO MUCH FUN! Jenny couldn't make it, so Erica's mom came and enjoyed the weekend with us. We got up to Charlotte Friday evening to get our race packets. Saturday morning we woke up early, enjoyed a Paleo breakfast (courtesy of my trainer, Laurie!) and headed to Lowe's Motor Speedway for the race. There were so many people - I think they said over 12,000 -- and we all looked the same in our white! I had a goal to finish in under an hour. My 5k time from September was 69:40, so I knew it was going to be a tough challenge trying to cut 10 minutes off. After the first hill, I was doubtful that I would make my goal. Then the second hill hit, and I just knew I wouldn't make it! Well, I finished in 59:30!!! I made it!!!!! I was so stinkin' excited! I honestly didn't think I would after those hills, which I really didn't expect. This was a huge feat for me and I can't wait for my next race!

Color FUN!
me and my SIL, Amanda - before and after!
Color Throw Celebration
yes, I AM!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


I've been sitting here thinking about my weight-loss journey this morning. I am so very thankful to every single person that has had ANYTHING to do with getting me where I am. But there is one person in particular that goes unnoticed sometimes, even by me, and that's my trainer/instructor Laurie.

When I stepped into the Inspire 4 Life studio back in January to take my very first Zumba class, Laurie was the instructor. I was so unsure of how the class was going to go, I was intimidated, I was nervous, I was scared. Laurie made me feel welcome and comfortable. I wasn't scared or nervous to go to class after that. I was family. She is so encouraging and enthusiastic. She has a true passion for fitness and it shows in each of her classes and personal training sessions. She has been there to answer so many of my questions and keep me focused on my journey. She introduced me to the Paleolithic lifestyle. It has made such a difference in my life and how I feel. When I don't eat Paleo, I don't feel so great. I seriously can't tell you the many ways this woman changed my life.

I am no athlete by any stretch of the imagination, but I am eating healthier and exercing more -- ALOT more! I came across a random blog this morning about figure and bikini competitors and wanted to share some of what it said about trainers.
A Trainer is so many things to an athlete; it's a person that's an adviser, a spotter, a coach, a friend, a confidant, it could be someone that acts like a publicist, a consultant, a judge. Trainers can be gurus in the vast fields of nutrition and supplementation, but they can also be 100% focused on the training (per the title). Some trainers have a long list of certifications, meanwhile others don't have a single certificate (they're "expertise" was earned over decades transforming everyday men and women into champions - top ranked amateurs, professionals, even Arnold & Olympia level warriors!).

A real champion doesn't forget where they're from...Many of the champions we see here today - they owe a great deal to the men and women that make up their team. I don't want to take anything away from the champions (and you can bank their trainers don't either), but when you look at a physique that just marvels you, realize there's usually a lot that went into that - and part of "a lot" is all the hard work of trainers! This is our time to recognize a few truly gifted and committed people.

This is my time to recognize my gifted and committed trainer Laurie Herring Carroll. She most certainly is an advisor and coach, but more importantly has become a friend and confidant. She has so much knowledge and enthusiasm to share and I am honored that she shares it with me. She has inspired me, and many others, to either start a journey or encouraged us in the journey we are currently on. She has pushed me byond my limits and continues to push me. I have developed more of a drive for exercise, fitness, and healty living through working out with her. She is just absolutely amazing. Thank you Laurie for everything you do and for continuing to help me reach my goals!!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Success and Blessings

God has guided me along my journey and I have been very successful thus far. In the past 3.5 weeks I have lost an additional 2.5 inches! I continue to be amazed at the changes in my body. The fat is “melting” away and I am gaining much more muscle. Muscle that I never imagined having!

Since starting at Inspire 4 Life Fitness back in January, just 10 months ago, I have lost a total of 38.75 inches!! The instructors and trainers are so enthusiastic about fitness. They love sharing their passion and helping people reach their fitness goals. My thoughts and feelings about "working out" and "fitness" have completely changed since I started taking classes at the studio. It is amazing. When I started, there were so many things that I COULD NOT do. I couldn't even make it through an entire song at Zumba class without being winded and having to stop. Now, I can make it through the whole class, minus water breaks! I couldn't walk a mile without stopping. Now, I have done 2 5ks and have a 3rd scheduled for next weekend. The first one, I did stop once or twice, this last one I didn't stop at all, and the one coming up I plan to run intervals! I couldn't do pushups, let alone even think about doing burpees, suicide drills, and mountain climbers. But now, I can do it all! Some of it I have to modify, but I can still do it -- all since starting at the studio. I'm telling you, hard work and dedication REALLY WORKS!

I have been blessed with these fantastic instructors/trainers and so many supporters that have helped me along the way. Every time I start to get discouraged, someone is there to pick me up and push me a little farther. I have developed new friendships; friendships that will last forever.

There is one new friend that I really want to appreciate - Crystal McKern! I only knew your name through us having a mutual friend. I friended you on Facebook and we developed a connection. I have watched you start your own journey and you are doing such a wonderful job. You encouarge me without even realizing it! We remind each other when we're hurtin' from a workout that HARD WORK PAYS OFF! Because we're on such a similar journey, we can grow [or technically SHRINK] with each other, share experiences, successes, failures, and encourage each other. I am proud to call you my friend!

Words could NEVER express my gratitude and everyone's continued support and encouragement in my life. THANK YOU!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Moving Forward

For those of you that follow my story, obviously you’ve noticed that it’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Sorry about that. I have just gotten so wrapped up in my routine that I just forgot to keep you updated. Well, hopefully I’ll catch you up today and stay up to date with my postings.

I didn’t hit the weight loss goal that I wanted to by October 16th, but I was pretty close. I did manage to lose 4 more inches though! I was very happy about that. I think my body is starting to adjust and get used to my workouts. My muscles haven’t felt as “worn out” the past couple of times. That just means I’m going to have to work harder; which is good because it also means I’m getting stronger and healthier. I’m still working on my mile pace.

My Color Run 5k is in 2 weeks! AHHH!! I am so very excited about it and anxious to see what time I end up with. The next 2 weeks are going to be FULL of workouts and running intervals! I’m just excited about that weekend in general. My team (No Excuses – Crystal, Erica, and Jenny) is making it a complete girls’ weekend. We are staying Friday and Saturday night and going to just do some fun stuff together. It is going to be a much needed weekend away for me! I absolutely cannot wait. Crystal actually has another 5k to do on Sunday at Furman with her work. I’ll be going with her to support her in that race as well.

I am still working on getting my eating habits in check. I am following some Paleo “restrictions” but not as much as I need to. I am going to be working on that in the coming weeks as well. I have actually had 2 people approach me recently about helping them to eat healthier. This is just a testament to me on how much my story and journey is reaching and affecting people. I know I say this about every time I blog, but I never thought how sharing my story would influence so many people. It completely amazes me. I hear stories from friends where people say something to them, people that I don’t even know! I am so very thankful for the lives that I am able to reach by sharing my thoughts, my struggles, and my successes. The whole reason I started sharing my story was to hopefully let someone out there know that they are not alone in their journey. I know that, at least for me, it helps to know that someone else has thought what you’ve thought or struggled the way you’re struggling. It also helps to know that the struggles are only temporary and success is on its way!

I have just been so blessed in my journey thus far. I may have failed to meet some of my goals and slipped along the way, but it’s all part of the process. It is inevitable to fail at some things. Life has an ultimate purpose and failure should not keep you from it. The important thing is to learn from it, pick yourself up, and keep going. My journey is not temporary. My journey is the rest of my life. I refuse to let failure rule the rest of my life, it has taken too much of my life already. I will be successful and I will achieve my goals! And you will reach your goals as well, just keep pushing forward. Push through the struggles, push through the rain, and push through the hurt. If you stumble, then take a minute to regain composure and continue along the way. Keep your eye on the little bit of sunshine you see ahead knowing that victory is just around the corner!

I’m not going back. I’m moving ahead. I’m here to declare to you. My past is over. In you, all things are made new. Surrender my life to Christ. I’m moving, moving forward!
Moving Forward – Hezekiah Walker

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Schedules, Goals, and Diet

I must say I've had a pretty good week overall. Sunday I had a very long and productive phone conversation with my BFF and accountability partner, Jessica. She and I are both at the point where we needed to sit down and set some actual goals for ourselves. We haven't done this in a while, so it was well overdue! I have missed our Sunday evening chats about the week and out goals for the week to come. We talked about alot and set some of our goals in motion. Right now we're concentrating on short-term goals (things to accomplish before Christmas).

My first goal is for my 5k in November. I want to be around the 60 minute mark at the finish line. I finished my last 5k in 69:40. It's going to take some work, but I know I can do it. I have been using my Core 24 membership to work on that. I've gone a couple of times this week and just done a treadmill workout. For a 15 minute mile, I have to average a 4.0 mph pace. The past 2 times I went to the gym, I hit 3.0 and 3.5 mph. I didn't stay there long, but it let me know what that pace felt like. I think I am going to have to start running intervals again. I have't done that in a while, but I know it will get me to where I need to be. I just don't think I can power walk 4.0 mph the whole time, but I know I can do some intervals. So that's next on my list at the gym.

Some other goals involve a weight that I want to be at before October 16th. I'm still not ready to share those numbers here yet, but I'll let you know when I accomplish that goal! :) I have another goal to workout 6 times per week. This week I only hit 5 days, but one of those days I did 2 workouts. So I technically hit my 6 times. I am working on getting a schedule down for my workouts....figuring out days I'll be at the Inspire 4 Life vs Core 24. I'm also working on getting my eating habits in check. I am starting to incorporate more whole grains back into my diet. It's been a struggle making sure I'm not getting too many and keeping my meals planned out. I never thought I would say this, but I want to try to stick to the main points of the Paleo lifestyle. It was actually so much easier than trying to figure out if I'm eating too much of something.

I continue to be amazed at what my body is capable of and the things it's letting me do. I never in a million years imagined that I would have a goal to work out 6 times a week -- let alone actually DOING IT! ...and it  feels GREAT! I am so blessed to have been given a second lease on life and to be able to change my health outcome. It was very scary for the doctor to blatantly tell me that I would die if something didn't change. But it was at that point that I knew I had to do it. I couldn't let heart problems take me away from life. I couldn't let obesity rule my life and rob me of my happiness. I was not going to let more opportunities be taken away from me because of my health. This is MY life and I'm taking it back!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Update - Post Transformation

Okay, so I know you're all dying to know how I'm doing post-transformation. Things are going well. I'm still working out full force. I am still implementing some of the Paleo lifestyle into my eating.

At my party last week, Bobby surprised me with a 6 month membership to Core 24. He had mentioned it to me at one of my first workouts with him, but he never said anything else about it so I didn't really put any more thought into it. PLUS, my 2 best friends from college (Jessica and Erica) surprised me with a 6 month unlimited membership to the studio (Inspire 4 Life Fitness)! I am unbelievably blessed to have these people in my life that want to invest in my health and fitness! I picked up a couple more classes at the studio this week and did a workout at the gym today. I'm working on getting a real workout schedule done so I know what I'm doing when.

I have 2 5ks coming up within the next 6 months. One is the Color Run in Charlotte on November 17th. Then there is another 5k I want to do in January in Atlanta called the Hot Chocolate 5k! The only thing about the one in Atlanta is that there is a 15 minute mile pace requirement. Right now I am at about a 22 minute mile pace. That is one of my goals -- to get to the 15 minutes. I actually started working on that today at the gym. I hit the treadmill with some hills and started increasing my speed. I know it's going to take ALOT and even some running/jogging, but I'll make it! I'm hoping to be under 20 minutes/mile by the 5k in November -- 8 weeks! We'll see how that goes!

In the meantime, I'm just working as hard as I can to get further in my journey. My next goal date is March 22nd. I'll be having dinner with Erica and Jessica for E's birthday. It's part of their "gift" to me. They want to know numbers and progress that day. I'm ready to knock their socks off! :)

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Sorry that I have been kinda MIA this past week. It has been a crazy week with the end of my transformation and getting things ready for my BIG reveal party that I had today.

I just want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone that showed up to celebrate with me. Those that weren't able to come, I understand, but you missed the FUN! :) If you aren't connected to my Facebook, then here are my results for you. Over the past 6 weeks during the transformation, I have lost a total of 13.25 inches and 39lbs!! That brings my one year total to 52.75 inches! I am so thrilled with the results, but can't wait to see what the next stage in my journey will bring!

No excuses!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

One Year

Today marks one year that I have been on my weight-loss journey. It has been one heck of a year. If you don't know my back story, you can read it here. It's just hard to believe that it has actually been a whole year, 12 months, since I started changing my life for the better. It has taken a true mental dedication to stick to this. I know in my head and my heart that if I hadn't started this journey, I might not be alive. That's just the honest truth. My doctor blatantly told me that if things didn't change, I would die early. I didn't want to die, so I changed! My eating habits are completely different than they were 12 months ago. My activity level is MUCH higher than it was last year. I have new friends and stronger friendships. I am blessed to have had the opportunities for healthy living that I have experienced over the past year. I have now have two 5ks under my belt....something I NEVER would have done or imagined I would do this time last year. AND I have a third 5k scheduled for November in Charlotte with a new friend and 2 friends from college. My life is so much better.

I want to thank a few people specifically. First of all - Jessica. I thank God that we met in Spanish class 10 years ago! God knew I would need you in my life for this very reason. You have always been honest with me, even when it hurts -- and I know it has sometimes. You have kept me grounded and focused on my goals. Thank you for always standing by me and continuing to be a TRUE friend.  Leah - thank you for being my walking buddy. You have helped keep me on track as well. Had it not been for you, I would have never hit the pavement. You have pushed me to do extra things that I never thought I would do (Zumba, the 5k). Thank you for your friendship. Laurie - thank you for accepting me in your Zumba class. You have never judged me and I can't even begin to tell you how much that means. You have been so supportive and encouraging. You keep me excited to exercise. Your dedication and commitment to health and fitness is contagious. I only hope I can pass the excitement along! To Bobby and Carlos - thank you for working with me during this transformation over the past 6 weeks. Both of you have really pushed me beyond my limits. I never thought I would run or lift weights like you have made me do. You have a dedication to fitness as well. Thank you for making me realize that I'll never know what I'm capable of until I push beyond the pain.

I have so many other people to thank for all of their encouragement and support. There are so many that have made such an impact on my journey. I would never be able to thank or recognize them all. If you read this blog, THANK YOU! Knowing that my story is reaching others is so encouraging. My whole reason for blogging has become so that people who may be feeling the same way I do or facing the same struggles I am know that they are not alone. It helps so much to know that! Life is about sharing experiences with others and I am thankful I can share mine with each of you.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Hard Work and Support

Okay, so Tuesday I could hardly walk after that race! I barely walked at work and didn’t do any workouts. It was brutal, but my feet have finally healed and I’m back at my workouts full force! Wednesday I had Zumba class. I couldn’t do some of the moves because my feet were still pretty tender, but I did all I could. Thursday they felt a lot better, so I tried to work extra hard at College Street Zumba! Friday I had a workout with Carlos and he made me run again. We did 7 sets of running the length of the studio outside then came inside and ran suicides. It was HOT! But I did it and it didn’t kill me. Carlos mentioned that my stamina is building and I did well with the running. I think I did pretty darn good too considering I’m totally not a runner!

At our Inspired! meeting Thursday, we talked about why people workout and what keeps them coming or motivated. Besides my health scare, what got me started and has kept me going is having a support system; someone that has been by my side to encourage me and literally walk with me. I think that’s crucial for anyone wanting to get healthy and workout. If you don’t have someone there to stand by you, you can make all the excuses you want and you’ll eventually give in. Having someone there to remind you of your goals is so helpful. It keeps me motivated knowing someone out there cares about my end result as much as I do. I encourage you to find that person that will help motivate you. It could be someone that is working toward the same goals or someone that you know will just be there for you. If you can’t find that person, I’d be glad to help with your accountability! Just comment or send me an e-mail and I will do all I can to help you achieve your goals.

Speaking of goals, Laurie gave me one to achieve yesterday. She told me to do 20 minutes of walk/run intervals, 50 crunches, 50 push-ups, and 100 squats! When she told me that I couldn’t believe it, my jaw dropped. HOLY COW! How in the world was I going to do it? Well, I did! I actually did about 25 minutes of walking and running. I downloaded an interval app for my iPod touch and did 7 sets of 3 min walking 30 sec running. It definitely got harder toward the end, but I finished with a strong run. Next time I’ll try 2 min walking and 30 sec running. Then I’ll increase my running interval. I never thought I’d be running on my own! You do what your trainer tells you when you’re working out with them, but to go out and run by myself….NEVER thought it would happen. I could have very easily walked the whole time, but I was given a goal to strive for and I accomplished it. It felt really good!

Today starts the last week of my transformation. I am really sad to see this process end, but am completely excited to see my results! I really wish I could keep up with the training sessions with Laurie, Bobby, and Carlos but it just isn’t in the budget. I am definitely going to keep up with my Zumba though! Plus, each of them has given my great tips and exercises that I can continue at home. I have been blessed with their expertise, encouragement, and commitment. It has been an absolute joy to endure the pain they put me through. Pain is weakness leaving the body and they’ve helped me get rid of A LOT of weakness! LOL! I do my final measurement and weigh-in on Friday then Sunday we’re having a BIG REVEAL PARTY at the studio (Inspire 4 Life Fitness)! It is gonna be hard keeping my results a secret for 2 days! I cannot wait though! If you have been following my blog and are in the area, you are MORE than welcome to come to the party and help me celebrate! (if you need directions, just let me know!) I know the trainers are probably going to “torture” me this week, but I’m ready. Let’s finish strong!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Labor Day Funk Run

 Well I did it - I completed another 5k. Let me just tell you, this one was tough. I went into the race yesterday not fully prepared but I knew I could do it. I started the race, no problem. It was hilly, but I was pushing through. About halfway through, my feet were really hurting, specifically the balls of my feet. I felt like they were on fire and every step got worse. I kept singing the Praise & Worship songs on my playlist and praying for God to ease the pain. I had two goals for this race: not to stop and to finish with a better time than in January and I was very close to not accomplishing either one. I was about two thirds of the way through the race and who do I see ahead but my trainer Bobby coming back to get me. I was literally in tears at this point. I just about felt like I couldn’t go any farther and God sent him to help me push through. I would have finished regardless, but I definitely wouldn’t have finished in better time had Bobby not come back. He talked to me and kept my mind off how bad my feet were hurting. So I accomplished BOTH goals today – I never stopped and I finished 2 solid minutes ahead of my January time!

the reason my feet were hurting - yep, a HUGE blister full of blood!
 Yesterday’s race meant a lot to me. It wasn’t just achieving my goals; it was more than that. It was a boost in confidence. There were so many people that kept encouraging me along the way. The church (UAG) that sponsored the race had cheerleaders along the route, which was great, but it was the other participants. Every time I turned around there was someone giving me an extra boost. “You’re doing great.” “Keep going.” “You got this.” I can’t tell you how much that meant and what it added to my determination. It helped me when my feet first started hurting. I knew I just had to keep pushing.

I did this race “by myself.” My brother was going to walk with me, but he decided to run and I was going to walk with his mother-in-law. When the race started, she had a faster pace than me so she went on. Deep down, I knew I had to do this on my own anyway. I had to prove to myself that I could do it without anyone by my side, without relying on someone to be there for me to lean on when I got tired. I had to make up my own mind that this was MY race. Yes, my trainer came back to push me to the end, but he wasn’t my crutch. I knew I would finish had he come back or not. He just came to kick me to finish strong, and finish strong I did!

People tell me all the time, “I wish I had your determination.” All it takes is a little work. You have to realize that you have a purpose in this life. Right now, my purpose is to live and in order to live this is what I have to do. I have to work hard to lose weight. I have to lose weight to literally stay alive. When the way you’ve been living isn’t working anymore, you know something has to change. If you don’t change, you’ll die. Plain and simple. Not wanting to die drives my determination. Find your drive. Find your purpose.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Catching You Back Up

As you might have noticed, I didn’t get much of a chance to blog last week. So let me try to catch you up! I left you having made my 8,000 step goal for Tuesday; well I met that goal again Wednesday! I hit 8, 312 steps Wednesday and 7,517 Thursday. I’m definitely making strides toward that 10,000 mark! I can pretty much guarantee that I’ll hit 10k tomorrow because I am walking a 5k in the morning! I haven’t said much about it because, honestly, I’m not really prepared for it. It still hasn’t sunk in that I’m really doing one again. My sister-in-law asked me if I wanted to do it with her (she’s actually doing the 10k) and my nephew, and possibly my brother. Obviously I said yes but my mind just isn’t completely there this time. I’m actually kinda nervous about it right now. I know I can do it, that’s not the issue. I just haven’t prepared for it by walking like I should, plus my legs are KILLING me from my workout with Bobby yesterday. He did actually prepare me for it a little bit without even knowing it. We went to the gym (Core 24) to workout yesterday and he had me “warm-up” and “cool down” on the treadmill. He had my speed at like 2.6-2.7 with an incline of 2.5-3.0! My body is not used to that…my LEGS are not used to that! And on top of that, he had me doing leg extensions with 30lbs. My thighs are screaming at me today!! I just hope they feel better tomorrow for this race. Carlos actually said he wanted to see me run the next one! Yeah, we’ll see about that! LOL

Speaking of Carlos, I worked out with him Thursday before our Inspired! meeting and Zumba. And of course he made me run again. We didn’t have a whole lot of time to work out. I went straight there after work, changed clothes and we got going around 4:15pm; our meeting started at 4:45pm. We did about 4 rounds of running, kettlebell squats/raises, and modified burpees. The running actually aggravated my hip from where I “hurt” it Tuesday, but I did it and it didn’t kill me! I did feel like I was falling apart by the end of the night though. I have developed a bone spur on the top of my foot and that started hurting, plus my hip was already bothering me, then I started getting calf cramps during Zumba! Again, I still made it. There’s a quote image that I found a while back that rings true in situations just like this…

Friday I didn’t have a workout because I had a surprise birthday party for my 2nd mama (my best friend’s mom). I did well at her party though as far as Paleo goes. I had some chicken salad (no sandwich), some veggies, and fruit. I stayed away from the cake, even though I had to cut it. I didn’t even lick my fingers! We had a great time.

Today was homecoming at our church. I wasn’t really looking forward to it because of all the food I couldn’t eat. I wanted to dig in so bad, but I didn’t. I actually brought my own stuff to make a salad for my lunch. I did enjoy a little bit of the apple and cherry crisp that my mom made, but mainly ate the fruit filling and not so much of the topping. I couldn’t even eat much of it because it started becoming too much.

I’m proud of myself and the obstacles I overcame this weekend. That was actually the main topic of our Inspired! meeting this week, obstacles. We talked about different things that stand in our way of staying on target for our goals. This weekend it was special occasions for me. The biggest thing is being prepared. Carlos mentioned planning out your meals on Sundays. Honestly, if you don’t prepare, you set yourself up for failure. That doesn’t mean you can’t overcome, but the odds are stacked against you to make bad decisions. I knew there would be fruits and veggies at the party Friday, so I wasn’t worried. Today, I knew there wouldn’t be anything I could eat, so I took my own. "By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail." (Ben Franklin)

Today is the day you can take control of your life. Take the necessary steps to get where you want to be. You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Zumba and Steps

Will I make it?!

Let’s get this week started out right! Well I’ve done that, but kind of threw in a wrench Monday night. Laurie set a goal of 8,000 steps for me on Monday. I knew it would be a stretch to get there, but with Zumba and strength training with her afterwards, I thought I might just make it. Well, I didn’t quite get there. We noticed after my workouts that it didn’t count my steps right during the strength session. I tried to estimate what we might have done and added it to the steps I actually had, but I still came up short. I did manage to break 6,000 though.

Yesterday I didn’t feel so well. I can pretty much tell you why though. I’m going to be outright honest here – I cheated and ate some of my mom’s pizza after supper Monday night. Let me tell you, it did NOT agree with my stomach at all. I felt like crap about all day yesterday. I know my trainers won’t be happy about my cheating, but I can tell you I won’t be doing it anymore! After just 2 weeks of Paleolithic eating, my tastes and digestion have already changed some. It’s crazy to think how much really can change in just 2 weeks of changing your eating habits!

So last night I didn’t have any other training scheduled, so Laurie told me to go to step class with Cindy. I’ve done the class before, so I knew what to expect. It’s tough for someone not used to all those steps. My hip actually started bothering me halfway through the class so I had to modify some of the moves; BUT it got in my steps for the day! I finally hit 8,000 (8,368 to be exact!)! That was the exciting part! Now the challenge is to see if I can hit that 8k without step class. Catch up with me tomorrow to see how I did…..

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Stepping It Up

We had a great Inspired! meeting Thursday. Carlos talked about trying to get our 10k steps in and finding ways to get it done. We also started discussing different options for meals, like what we can eat for breakfast and lunch. I can’t wait to get my almond flour because right now I’m eating a lot of eggs for breakfast and I’m kinda getting sick of them. LOL. Once I get that in, I can make some different things for breakfast, and even treats (cookies!). I’ve been finding and finally trying some more recipes. Some of them have turned out pretty good, others just not quite like I expected/wanted.

Sweet Potato Fries

Creamy Chicken Tomato Soup
I also had Zumba Thursday night. And even though I had that, I didn’t make my goal of 7,000 steps. I had to make an unexpected trip to Pendleton, so that took a lot of the time that I would have been able to get in my extra steps. I did make sure to hit 6,000 though Thursday, Friday, and yesterday.

Bobby definitely helped me get in my steps on Friday. He asked me first thing how many steps I had in already. He had quite a few exercises in mind to help push me farther. We did 12 straight minutes of circuit training, no rests – squats, rows, curls, shoulder press, tricep extension, and pushups. I did probably about 7 rounds of those. Then we did step ups and on to alternating seated squats and knee lifts. My legs were burning! Plus we did some swinging ropes, side tilts, trunk twists, and punches using a bungee rope for tension. If that weren’t enough, he threw in some “farmer walks” carrying 50lbs of weight and walking knee lifts!

I was worn slap out! BUT I still had to come back yesterday morning for my workout with Carlos. SO, I get up early to go workout with Carlos yesterday at 7:45am. He has a boot camp class before I come and he warned me. He was pumped and ready to go! Boy was he ever! He had a whole workout planned for me, one similar to what they do in his boot camp class. Well, in the middle of doing push-ups, he asks me about my workout with Bobby. I told him everything we did and he has to change his workout because it’s too similar to what he was going to do. Now I really don’t know what to expect. He says we’re going outside. Okay. We’re going to run. WHAT?! RUN?! Yes, run. This fat girl ran. There are two buildings: the studio and Core 24 Gym. We “power” walked the length of one building then ran the other length. Turned around and did it again….and again….and again - about 8 times - walking then running. Get done with that and he wants me to do tire flips and sledgehammer swings. I had to do about 4-6 rounds of that. THEN he mentions suicides – run the length of 2 parallel parking spaces, do 10 jumping jacks, turn around and do it again. I couldn’t really tell you how many of those I did. I probably haven’t really run since like 6th grade! My legs were some serious jell-o! But I did it!

I honestly can’t say how much I love each of my trainers. Both Bobby and Carlos told me during their workouts this week that they were going to step it up for me. They felt a desire and obligation to do that for me. Yes, that means harder workouts, but it also means that really care about my end result. It means that they are concerned about where I go from here. Laurie pushes me every single time I walk into one of her classes or training session. These people really care. I am honored and privileged to have the first transformation opportunity at Inspire 4 Life Fitness!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Another Reason

Just another reason why I blog and share my journey with others. I got a message today from someone I went to high school with. We weren't the best of friends, which made this message that much more special.

Hey girl! Just wanted to tell you that you're looking GREAT!! You're a real motivation for me - even though I haven't done Zumba yet, getting healthy has become important again and I owe alot of it to you for sharing your Journey! I'm sure it's been a tough road, but it's paying off for you! Way to go, Alisha!! And thank you for sharing with us!!

Keep 'em coming, people! I am feeding from this!

Day 22 - Marine Corp Barbie

I only THOUGHT I was sore yesterday! The past two nights I shared training sessions with a guy named Brian – he’s in the Zumba class too. Well, I can tell you that Laurie does not hold anything back! She did “super sets” to wear out the muscles and boy did it ever! I have worked muscles that I didn’t realize you could work. She definitely pushes me to give all I have and more. She mainly concentrated on arms/chest, which is where I think I am weakest. So, it was tough. There’s no letting up though because tonight I have Zumba again. Not to mention my other workouts with Carlos and Bobby to finish up the week. I can tell you now that Sunday will be a GLORIOUS day of rest!!!! I’m already looking forward to it, but I know all the work I’m doing and the soreness I feel every night is so worth it. I am seeing more and more differences in my body and starting to see some muscle definition beneath this fat. More muscle burns more fat, so bring it on! Let’s do this!

*Oh – and I hit my 6,600 step goal yesterday! Now, to just do it again today.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It's All Paying Off

So it’s back to the grindstone after a not-so-productive weekend with workouts and eating. I did my regular Zumba class Monday night but had to cut out 30 minutes early for a Thirty-One meeting. I contacted the trainers yesterday to see when we could train again. I heard back from all of them then Laurie sent me a text with my schedule for the week! Last night she either wanted me to come train with her or go to step class. Since I haven’t had the chance to really work with her personally, I decided to do that. She pushed me harder than I actually expected. My arms we so sore; I could barely lift them to do the cool down exercise or afterward. It was great though. All of the trainers have been great to push me beyond my limits and give me the encouragement I need to keep going. I just wish I could afford these session after this is all over. But in the meantime, I am going to soak it all up and take full advantage of everything they have to offer!

As for the rest of this week, tonight I have Zumba again and another personal training session with Laurie. Tomorrow we have our Inspired! meeting and I’m doing another Zumba class. Can you tell I love Zumba?! Then I have a training session with Bobby Friday afternoon and with Carlos Saturday morning at 7:45am! WOW! Plus they want me to get in 10,000 steps, which is very hard. I have yet to get there actually. I did make it to over 6,100 yesterday. Laurie wants me to add 500 to that. So my goal for today is 6,600 steps! I think I can do it though, especially with Zumba tonight.

At our Inspired! meetings, everyone usually weighs every week except for me. They don’t want me to weigh again until the transformation is over. Laurie did mention that she wanted me to measure again though. With going out of town last weekend I didn’t get a chance to until last night. I usually measure only once every 4 weeks. I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially with my most recent less than mediocre losses. Plus this was cutting my time in half. But, like I said, I did measure last night. In just 2 weeks and 2 days (I last measured 8/5) I have lost 6 INCHES!! I was so shocked and surprised! I honestly couldn’t believe it. That is more than I have ever lost in a month, or even 6 weeks!!! OH MY HEAVENS! I can’t wait to see what my final measurements and weight it once this is all over! By the time the transformation end I will be at my one year mark for my weight-loss journey. So amazing! I am blessed.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Days 16-20: Life on the Road

Welcome back! We had a great trip to Indiana and enjoyed our time with family for the reunion. I didn’t get the exercise in that I was hoping for. I had planned to go to the gym Saturday morning, but my cousin’s father passed away so we didn’t get to go. I did manage to do 40 step-ups Friday morning and 50 shoulder presses Saturday with a 15lb baby. I did a little bit of walking but not near what I should have (only got in about 10 minutes). Our days were packed full of “stuff” to do. I really wish I had done more, especially considering some of what I ate this weekend….

Speaking of - I didn’t do horrible on the food front, but I definitely didn’t follow Paleo like I was supposed to. I stuck to it for two meals and the third was kind of a “treat.” We only get White Castle and Pizza King/Clara’s once a year – when we go up for the reunion – so I did indulge in those two places. I did eat in moderation though. Normally, I could/would eat at least 6 White Castles and a large order of onion rings. This stop, I only ate 2 and 4 single onion rings (not even ½ a regular order of rings) plus a couple of fish bites. As for Clara’s, their pizza is in small squares and I think I ate about 5-6 squares. We did stop at McDonald’s on the way up and back too. I got a grilled chicken sandwich and ate just the chicken and toppings (lettuce, tomato, bacon) and 10-15 fries each time. I know none of that is Paleolithic, and I’m fessing up. I’m not hiding that fact that I didn’t follow my diet completely. I am letting you know that moderation is the key. But I did actually get a little sick Sunday morning. I’m not quite sure if it was not having eaten breakfast before heading out on the road or what I had eaten the days before; so that’s probably my payback! My good meals: Friday I had pork loin with cucumbers and tomatoes; Saturday I had chicken strips with tomatoes and sweet potatoes. Breakfast was grapes and a Larabar (Saturday), and grapes and turkey slices (Friday).

So there are my results from my weekend away. They aren’t the best, but they’re honest. Now to get back on track completely this week and have the trainers kick my butt like I know they will!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Life and Workouts

Whatever journey you’re on, life happens. I have been working on this transformation challenge for 2 weeks now. Last week was great, I worked out 6 days and had a restful Sunday. I will admit that this week has been hard. I didn’t get a real workout in on Tuesday. I was only able to do about 10 minutes of rowing then I remembered a ton of stuff I had to get done before going to bed, plus I had food on the stove cooking for lunch. Life took over and I didn’t finish my workout. I did get my Zumba in last night though. I had a great dinner (steak, “fried” sweet potatoes, and salad) and Carlos came over to clean out my fridge and cabinets. Oh, and they posted a video of my first workout with Carlos and Bobby on the website, so check it out on the Inspire 4 Life Facebook page.

Wednesday Dinner - YUM!

After finally going to the grocery store with Laurie on Saturday, I now have no reason not to eat Paleolithic. They have supplied me the ingredients and I have to come up with the meals. That has been a real challenge for me. I am not used to eating these foods and the way this lifestyle encompasses. I’m used to my bread, pasta, potatoes, corn, etc. I’m used to just coming home from a workout and my meal being on the table because my loving mother cooked for me. She doesn’t even know how to fix the foods I need to eat. I’ve had to do a lot of research for recipes and ideas on how to fix things in a way that I think I might like. I found a few that I’ve already tried, and some that I want to try. Most have been a success, some not so much; but I’m learning. It’s a process that requires more preparation than I’ve ever been used to. It has always been automatic that I take leftovers to work the next day. Now that my mom doesn’t really cook for me, I have to really plan. I have to plan in advance what I’m going to have the next day, two, or three so that I can fix what I need.

Wednesday Lunch
This weekend is really going to be a challenge. We are going to Indiana for our family reunion. There are typical food stops that we always make along that way that I can’t stop for this time. I probably won’t be able to have anything that anyone brings to the reunion food-wise. I’m not going to have a lot of time to do any workouts. The plus is that all my family up there knows the journey I’m on and the sacrifices I am making. I think they’ll understand if I sneak off to the gym for an hour or so. Maybe I can even motivate some of them to join me! I’ll even make a Paleolithic dish and dessert (maybe) to take to the reunion. There are going to be A LOT of temptations, I hope I can withstand!! I probably won’t be able to post again until I get back. So be on the lookout for my results for the weekend on Monday!

from my workout with Bobby

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Days of Rest and Meals

So after working out for 6 days straight last week, I finally took Sunday off. It was much needed, and deserved if I do say so myself! My arms were so sore that it hurt to straighten them. It felt good to just relax for a while.

Sunday lunch was not quite Paleolithic because it included bread and a bit of ranch dressing, but I did manage to cook Paleo for dinner Sunday night. I had rosemary chicken with cinnamon bacon sweet potatoes. My thoughts: I don’t like rosemary as much as I thought I did. Next time I fix a sweet potato, I will peel it. Saturday night I had pork chops with scrambled eggs and salsa. Yesterday was my first full day of really trying to do Paleo in its entirety after our grocery trip. It was a success except for the 2 tablespoons of Italian dressing with my salad for lunch. Breakfast was turkey bacon, scrambled eggs, and fruit (grapes and strawberries). Lunch was a grilled chicken salad with almonds, egg, and tomato. Dinner was yummy! I fixed chicken fajita lettuce wraps. It really was quite delicious. I used some of the leftover veggies (red bell pepper, zucchini, and onions) to put in my breakfast for the rest of the week – egg muffins. I even fried a little bit of (Paleo-friendly) sausage to put in them. They are really good too! :)

They were supposed to come do the pantry raid last night, but schedules got hectic and we postponed until Wednesday. That’ll be interesting! I’m just excited to finally start cooking and eating new things. I don’t have a lot of recipes yet, but I’ll build my stash…and even create some of my own. I’ve always wanted to try a bunch of recipes but never would because my mom wouldn’t eat it. She won’t eat what I “have” to eat right now anyway, so this is my chance to try all this different stuff! I am surprised that I’m not hungrier. I would have bet that I would starve trying to make it on this plan and between meals, but I’m not. I am actually satisfied; but in the instance that I’m not, I have options – healthy options. Here are some pics to keep your mouth watering until next time…..

Saturday's Dinner - Pork Chops with Scrambled Eggs and Salsa
Sunday Dinner - Rosemary Chicken and Cinnamon Bacon Sweet Potatoes
Monday Breakfast - Scrabmled Eggs, Turkey Bacon, Fruit
Monday Dinner - Chicken Fajita Lettuce Wraps
Tuesday Breakfast - Egg Muffins with peppers, onions, and zucchini
I AM A CHRISTIAN. I love the Lord with all my heart, soul, & mind. God has really blessed me more than I could ever imagine, but the truth is that Satan HATES me!! I face struggles & temptation every single day of my life; but no matter what happens, I still strive to do the will of God. Because I put my faith & trust in God, He has provided relief for me & my family time & time again! God never fails to comfort & remind me of His promise that “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). There have been countless times that I did not deserve God’s grace & should not have been granted mercy. But He has granted me mercy & forgiveness, as well as goodness & grace -- all for the purpose of sharing it with those I meet along the path of life. Some days are better than others, but you always have to remember to keep pressing on! Keep praising HIM & He’ll never fail to bring you through the storm.