One year ago I got on the scale and it read higher than it ever had before. At 165 pounds, I was only eight pounds away from the amount that I weighed on the day that my son was born. After Nolan was born, I was able to quickly lose all my baby weight and as I sweated off those “mom pounds” I would console myself with the knowledge that it was perfectly acceptable to gain weight like that when you are pregnant. However, on May 1, 2011 – having gained back all the weight that I had worked so hard to lose after my son was born (and then a couple extra for good measure) – I had no legitimate explanation. I had nothing and no one to blame for the extra pounds – except ME.

Well, being the forward-thinking and super awesome woman that I am, I joined Anytime Fitness and began to take back control over my weight. Over the next six months, I worked off 35 pounds at the gym (mostly on the elliptical machine). At 130 pounds, I could see my goal weight of 120 pounds just around the corner. At first I felt great, but soon I realized that something was missing. Around the holidays I noticed that despite putting in the hours at the gym, the pounds were starting to creep back. I felt like I was doing all of this hard work for nothing. What I was missing was the knowledge and discipline required to follow my exercise program through with a proper nutrition plan. That was when I decided that I needed a fitness education.

In my infinite awesomeness, I sought out experts in the field and came upon USA Elite Trainers. Of course I noticed CJ Havunen around the gym (he’s kind of impossible to miss), but soon the other trainers started to take me under their wings as well. I would ask questions, and they were never “too busy” to help me out. I started taking Tonya Russell-Radvanyi’s ‘Ab-alicious’ and ‘Glute-tastic’ classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I made dozens of new friends and the gym started to feel like my home away from home.

As my comfort level at the gym increased, I was surprised to find that I became more and more frustrated with my inability to continue losing weight. I was stuck and as a stay-at-home-mom with a pending $50,000 school loan, the funds simply were not available for the personal training that I felt I needed. That was when Steve Smith told me that I should join the Anytime Fitness Body Challenge (yeah, just like that). At first, (like the girly-girl that I can sometimes be) I was insulted that he could not see how awesome I already was. The rational side of me recognized that I did not currently appreciate my own personal beauty and that Steve had, in fact, offered me the very thing that I had been looking for: inexpensive personal training.

The very first thing that all Body Challengers do is set goals. My first thought was that I wanted to get down to my goal weight of 120 pounds, but CJ insisted that we dig a little deeper and list multiple Challenge Goals. I gave it a lot of thought and decided to take on my arch nemesis: skinny jeans. Just thinking about skin-tight jeans had me balking at the idea that I would have to take skimpy ‘before’ pictures, but Tonya put me right at ease (and if I had known then what I know now, that would have been the least of my worries!!). Next, I stepped up on the scale and squinched my eyes shut as Tonya wrote down the dreaded number: 133 pounds. (OK, I may have peeked a little…) I pored over my fitness and nutrition books, adding charts and graphs and schedules to help keep me on track (making sure to save some for later so that I can continue on with the principles of fitness and nutrition I have learned). I bought foods that I had never heard of based on their nutritional value rather than flavor alone. I started utilizing supplements to complement the hard rigors I was putting my body through and to speed recovery on particularly difficult days. I received my fitness education.

Despite CJ’s encouraging words, I WAS intimidated by “the mountain” and I kept having to fight my “I can’t…” attitude. But as the weeks wore on and the workouts increased while the calories decreased, something amazing happened… I was able to dive off of my weight plateau, soar past my goal weight of 120 pounds, and I had to create a new goal of 115 pounds. As I dipped below 115 pounds (the smallest I have ever been since childhood – seriously, come on – CHILDHOOD!!), I was forced to reassess what I was capable of. My “I can’t” attitude turned into, “trying never hurts”. For the past few weeks, I have been receiving so much positive feedback from fellow gym members, the trainers, and even perfect strangers that I did something I never thought I could do. I bought skinny jeans. Moreover, I look (you guessed it) totally AWESOME in my skinny jeans. I will not refer to this Body Challenge in the past tense because I want to feel this way for the rest of my life. It has transformed my attitude once again. I am capable, I am powerful, and I CAN because of the awesomeness that is ME!!

P.S. Special shout out to Vickie Storm who’s unrelenting spirit and loving support have been invaluable not only to me and the Kempsville Bone Krushers, but to every Body Challenge participant and I truly believe that she inspires everyone she meets.