“This is a story of my Journey. Some parts may make you laugh and some may make you cry. Please know by writing this, it is not only my hope to inspire people, but to let people know they are not alone in their struggle with weight loss.

Let me start off by saying, my weight has been an issue for me for many years. Every doctor I would go to would always say the same thing to me; I had wonderful blood pressure, my heart rate was good, and so was my cholesterol. I was extremely healthy, just over weight (Morbidly obese to be exact). I was tipping the scale at 343lbs. How could healthy and obese be used in the same sentence (I always wondered.) I heard this so much over time I guess I believed it. The reality is you can not be healthy when you can not even bend over to tie your own shoes or stand for short periods of time without having extreme pain in your lower back. I couldn’t even walk twenty feet without being short of breathe. The list of problems I had could go on and on.

I started to become very depressed about my weight. I was good at keeping it to myself though. No one close to me really even knew how depressed I was. Someone once said, “Inside every great comedian is a very sad clown.” That was me! I could make people laugh, but inside I was so sad. I had gotten to the point that some days I really did not even want to wake up. I would lie in bed and look at my husband and think about how he deserved so much better then me and wonder how he loved me as much as he did. I would think about my children and how embarrassed they must be to have such an over weight mother. When my son moved to Florida I couldn’t even get on a plane to fly down to see him because of my weight. I knew the airlines would charge me extra. Often, I would cry myself to sleep and soon found myself falling deeper and deeper into depression. People do not realize that a battle with weight for some is the same as a drug addiction or alcoholism to many others.

My husband one day suggested to me that we join The Anytime Fitness Gym that had recently opened up down the street from us. He wanted us to join because the doctors said it would be great for him and help with his dialysis’ treatments. See, my husband has kidney disease and is need of a transplant. I wanted to do it for him, so I agreed. I thought to myself that this was probably going to be just another place where I would be judged. We are taught growing up not to judge a book by its cover but let’s face it we all have at one time or another. A lot of times people think because you are fat you are stupid and lazy. I never really thought of myself like that. Now, I guess I really was because I did not know anything about nutrition and I never wanted to exercise. I have to say, I was really wrong about the gym. From the moment we walked in, we were greeted with a warm smile! I never felt like anyone here would ever judge me. After all, everyone there seemed to be after the same goal: to get fit and healthy. The trainers talked with us and showed us around the gym. I started to think that this might be good for me. This would be a place where I could go and fit in. Everyone in the gym from the trainers to other members gave encouragement. I can honestly say they wanted everyone to reach their goal.

The turning point for me was the day my husband and I went to the transplant center to see if I could be a donor for him. I couldn’t even be tested because of my weight. How horrible I felt. This is my soul mate, love of my life and I couldn’t even be tested to try to give him extra time on his life. What does that say about me? What if this was one of my children and as their mother I couldn’t even try to save them. I think this is what made me want not only to lose the weight but get healthy not just physically but mentally. It’s kind of funny, I wanted to save him and he actually saved me in a way.

One day at the gym I notice they had a sign up about the Body Challenge. One of my gym buddies suggested I do it. It would be a struggle for me at my weight but what a great way to see how dedicated I really was to take this journey. I signed up got a trainer and said several prayers. C.J. the owner of Elite trainers recommended a young man named Josh. They ask me what my personal goal was and what I wanted from the Body Challenge. I told them five simple words” to get my life back”! These two men will never know I will be forever grateful to them. When this started he said we would have a love hate relationship. I never experienced the hate part. How could you hate someone who literally is saving your life? The first day I worked out with Josh he wanted me to look in the mirror to watch my form as we did the exercises. I kept putting my head down; I really didn’t like what I saw. If he only knew how I wanted to run out of the gym in tears because I really hated myself. It’s funny you know your over weight but the way you perceive the way you look is not actually the way you look. There were many things I couldn’t do at first because of my size. I couldn’t get down on the floor or even do ten crunches without stopping. I was so out of shape! The first group work out was tough, everyone was down on the floor; I at this point still couldn’t get down there. Next week with Josh I told him the following week I would be down there with everyone else. I crawled from one mat to the next but I accomplished that goal. I was not faster or stronger but my Motto became “I don’t quit.” I wanted Josh to know I would give him 110% and no matter what he told me to do I would do it.

When all three gyms met at Mt. Trashmore for our first work out it was one of the hardest things I ever did. We were up and down on the mats. BY the time everyone else was getting back down I was just getting up. They wanted us to run the mountain in a minute. Both times I never made it all the way up there but “I don’t quit”. After the work out I decided I would not let this mountain beat me. I would get up that mountain even if I had to crawl. Stacy and My husband went up there with me. I was so proud of myself; I made it. The next big thing was a 5k. I can not tell you how scared I was. A 300 pound woman doing a 5k I really didn’t know if I had this in me. With the little voice in my head saying “You don’t quit “and great support I finished, maybe last but I did it. I remember crossing the finish line and just crying I never thought I would have been able to do this.

Week after week I accomplished a little something, from jogging around the building to doing thirty crunches without stopping. I took nutrition classes, even a kick boxing class. I finally began to like myself again. Josh would push my body to do things I would have never thought was possible. He had me get on the stair master (I referred to it as the stair bitch) it reminded me of a woman on PMS. Time after time I would get on it and pray I wouldn’t roll off backwards. One day I did ask Josh if we could do the elevator instead of the stairs but there is no elevator in the gym unfortunately.

When C.J. and Josh told me Cardio first thing in the morning I thought they were crazy. Bad habits are so hard to break but that’s what got me in this shape. Now my routine is leaving the house by 4:30am do hour of cardio in morning at gym, go to work back at gym by 4:00pm for more cardio and work-out. I’m not going to say it hasn’t been hard. Many days I left that gym in tears because my mind hurt as well as my body. There were parts of my body that I had forgotten I had even hurt. I would have ice packs on both my knees, sore arms even my butt hurt. I began to realize the changes in my body and really how much better I felt. The weight and inches came off and I really started to like who I have become. I soon realized the hardest job we ever have is LIFE. It’s nice to want to get up every morning and see what you can accomplish.

We all have demons, mine was my weight. It is important to understand my journey is far from over; this is just the beginning, I still have a long way to go. The difference is I know I will be successful because this process really does work. It takes dedication and work and “I Don’t QUIT!”

This essay is dedicated to many people because of them I began to really live again.

First, to the owners of Anytime Fitness Stacy and Taz for having such a wonderful gym.

The Elite Trainers: C.J. for always seeing something inside of me that I had forgotten was there and never giving up on me. Joe and Tonya for always being supportive and giving extra encouragement especially on our Saturday morning group work outs.Kel for teaching me to love myself again and teaching me ever little thing is a big accomplishment. To” Big Daddy” Josh, you will never know how much I am in debt to you for all you have done. I have the up most respect for you and I believe God put us together for this reason. You literally saved my life.

To my Gym sisters, Val, Nina, and Karen, thank you for giving so much support and guidance. There were days I could not have gotten through this without you. It meant more than you will ever know.

To two of the best friends anyone could ask for, Relyn and Debbie. You guys will always have a special place in my heart. You never judged me, just supported me on my journey.

My wonderful Husband, who cooked, cleaned and was in charge of my ice packs. Thank you for believing in me.”