“I still remember the horrible, sick, empty feeling in my stomach when I walked out of the doctor’s office almost a year ago. He stated Nina, your only 37 and on the way to becoming a diabetic, not to mention you need to start blood pressure medication to make sure you don’t have a stroke. He asked me if I intended on living a long life because at the rate I was going I would be dead by the age of 70. I sat in my car and cried, feeling sorry for myself, wondering how I let myself get to this point. I used to be so active, a nationally competitive ranked swimmer with a scholarship to college. As I looked back, my life was going just as I had planned. I graduated from Physical Therapy school, found a great job, got married and had a beautiful daughter. Then the unimaginable happened, my husband and I were divorced and it felt like the world fell out from underneath me. I did not believe in divorce and was raised to think it was unacceptable. I felt so ashamed, sad and like a failure.

I can look back now and see the divorce was the beginning of a downward spiral. I somehow went into survival mode and threw myself into the two things I knew I did well, my job and being a mom. When I finally stopped crying about everything, I made a choice to forgive myself and take the first step to move forward in my life. I had been stuck and had settled for a long time. In that moment I decided to create a possibility to live for. I created the possibility of living a joyous, loving, active life. Now all I needed was a plan to get me there. As I was driving home I noticed the old movie store was turned into a gym – Any Time Fitness. I pulled over and joined. I knew I needed help and I put my hope and trust into a young man named Travis with USA Elite trainers, who gave me an orientation to the gym. He was kind and gave me a lot of information to help me get in shape and start to lose weight. I began to look at myself from the inside out and with his help my journey to health began. I saw that I was strong, not weak and I slowly started taking control of my life. I stopped feeling bad about myself and realized I gave my power away, nobody had taken it from me. I had to honor and love myself to get it back. Soon after that Travis left the gym to go away for school. I was placed with another USA Elite trainer named Joe that ended up being the catalyst to my success. He has a genuine love for what he does and for helping people reach their fitness goals. He encouraged, pushed and motivated me to become the person that I am today. He pushed me further with my weight training and cardio than I ever thought was possible. I can now squat 225lbs. and run on a treadmill at 9.0 mph.

Joe suggested I enter the Any Time Fitness Body Challenge. He said I was capable of winning if I committed to it. I was scared, I had been playing life so small for so long because I was afraid of failing. I decided to enter the contest, what a great way to throw myself over the edge. I made a promise to myself to enjoy the process regardless of the outcome. Take advantage of the support I would receive, never realizing the rewards that were coming. Participating and performing everyday to my best ability during the challenge was a victory for me. I have broken through long standing obstacles with my family and my body image. Not to mention I made a truly wonderful friend that had helped me through the ups and downs of the challenge and will hopefully be a part of my life forever.

I have pushed my body further than I knew it could go and then Joe pushed it a little further. I have learned what to eat, when to eat, how often to eat and what portion size is right for me. The Elite trainers gave great tips on how to fuel your body throughout the day. For the first time in my life I feel like I have the tools and knowledge to maintain my weight loss; which is a joyous and relieving feeling. Being able to go into any store and put on a size 2 vs. a size 12 and have it look good, is a feeling that is hard to put into words. It allows me to be fully expressed in my voice and my new found body.

This challenge has allowed me to reach my goals of fitness and weight loss at a safe and rapid pace. I never realized the overall impact it would have on my life and the complete happiness I feel. I used to hide in a crowd with big clothes and a small voice. Now I have a new found confidence in my body, attitude and will for life. I can’t wait to try new things, one being entering a fitness or body building show. That would have been completely out of my realm of possibility a year ago. Along the way I have inspired my colleagues and motivated them to make health and fitness changes in their lives. I want to be a support for others as they start their own journey to becoming healthy.

I have grown to love this gym, the trainers, the staff and the new friends I have made along the way. This is only the start of my journey, I am excited to say bring it on, I am ready!”