People make healthy life style changes for all kinds of reasons. Some people have a health scare, with high cholesterol, blood sugar or blood pressure. Some people don’t like how they look or feel any more. Some people just get an “Ah Ha” moment when they realize if they don’t do something their quality of life will decline as they age or they may literally die. And some…well sadly, some never make the change. This is my story of how I lost 40 pounds and made healthy life style changes at 45 years old.
Let me lay down some history first. I hadn’t always been over weight or unhealthy. In fact in my 20s I was ripped! I went to the gym regularly, ate well, even got my personal trainer certification and took on a few clients part-time. I loved how the body moved and reacted to exercise. Then at 29 I had my daughter, I did not gain much weight but I no longer had the time or money for the gym. But no worries, we walked that child.. a lot! Then at 31 I had my son. Now 2 kids 2 years apart was a lot to handle, but we still walked and life was good. Then at 2 years old my son was diagnosed with autism. My world crashed, I did nothing but research and arrange services, and I ate…. a lot. I cared nothing for my self only finding help for my boy. It was rough. Through the years I still tried to get on the band wagon and eat well and exercise. I was even successful one time and lost a good bit of weight by running and doing one of those prepackaged food diets, then I hurt my knee. Slowly my weight creeped up again.
Fast forward to December 2016. My now 14-year-old daughter, Makinna loves Danica Patrick. If you don’t know who she is, she is a race car driver. She drove open wheel and then got into NASCAR. My daughter saw her racing when watching a race with her dad and was totally smitten. Look at this girl competing with all men!! She was inspired. I researched Danica, after all if my daughter was going to have a role model I wanted to know about her. I thought she couldn’t have chosen better. Danica was not just driven in racing, she was also an entrepeneur and a healthy lifestyle role model, and when I saw her interviews, she usually had a positive out look. So in December 2016 my daughter comes to me and says, “Danica is putting out an exercise book and she is doing a pilot program, I want to do it! ” I was thrilled that my almost 15-year-old daughter wanted to participate in an exercise and healthy eating plan but I knew at her young age she would need some help, especially with the nutrition part, so I told her “I will do it with you!” She signed up taking before and after pictures, I did not do that part thinking I would just follow along on the web site with her.
Danica’s program was called “Pretty Intense” and let me tell you it was that! The exercise portion was a high intensity interval training and the nutrition portion was a Paleo type diet. These concepts were what got Danica into the phenomenal shape that she is today. I won’t lie, I struggled….I really struggled. The food portion was not bad, I like lots of different foods and I love to cook so making new foods was fun. The hard part was cooking for me and my daughter and then for my husband and son. My husband and son were not at all interested in making the change but my husband supported us fully. I think my daughter struggled a little giving up sweets but she also learned that she loves butternut squash. The exercise part…holy crap. Mind you I was almost 200 lbs and jumping and burpees were so hard, but I kept telling my self “you don’t have to be perfect you just have to keep moving” I had to take a lot of rest breaks, but I finished. Luckily with my back ground in physical therapy I knew how to modify many of the exercises for my achy knee, hip and shoulder. And you know what? As I got stronger they hurt less! The program included working out 2 times a day some days. To be honest, I didn’t get every workout in but I if I missed a workout I didn’t let that take me off track, my young daughter was watching me after all, and I just could not let her see me quit. It was not an option. That is what really kept me going through the 12 weeks, I wanted my daughter to succeed and I thought if she thought about giving up, I could say “hey! if this fat old lady can do it, so can you!” I never had to say that though, she was amazing.
Toward the end of the program Danica let every one know she was going to host a meet and greet workout, open to anyone that finished the program and submitted their before and after pictures. My daughter finished the program, and luckily the meet and greet was to be held 5 miles away from my brothers home in Charlotte NC. We got to meet Danica and made friends with other “tribe” members that we both still stay in contact with today. We call ourselves “the PI Tribe” and we have the shirts to prove it.
Meeting Danica Patrick was awesome. We showed up at the cross fit gym with about 25 other people.(one guy even came from New Zealand!) We worked out together for about an hour and then Danica fed us a healthy fantastic catered lunch and did a question and answer session. She made her way around to every one, coaching them on their form and giving them encouragement, I was very impressed with her, and my daughter was over the moon! But my favorite part was getting to meet her mom Bev Patrick! She did the program as well, and was my inspiration, because I thought if Danica’s mom can do it so can I!
Now, its been over a year since we met and worked out with Danica, and Makinna and I have both kept up with our healthy lifestyle changes. My daughter is now 16 and works out 5 days a week and loves it. I work out regularly and walk around 10-20 miles a week,with my husband and/or son. We both continue to eat well probably 90% of the time, there is the occasional pizza or cake in our lives. Makinna loves being fit and strong and understands how eating healthy impacts how she looks and feels. She is hooked. My weight loss, improved energy level and self-confidence led me on a new path. I decided to get my personal training certification and start my own business doing in home personal training with older adults or people with health issues. I had seen a need for this service through my job as a home care physical therapy assistant and had tossed the idea around for years, I finally got the nerve to take the plunge.
This past year and a half has been great. I have rediscovered my healthy self from my youth. But now in my 40s I have a different perspective. Yes I like the way I look, but I love the way I feel. I love being able to hop up off the ground without effort. The other thing I have learned is that the process doesn’t have to be perfect. In the past, if I didn’t have time for an all out work out, I didn’t do anything. I have adopted the “something is better than nothing” approach. I decided to love my self more and beat my self up less. If I faltered and skipped a few workouts or if I had a weekend of pizza and beer, I didn’t brow beat myself and feel bad. I tried to think of my self as a healthy person that exercised regularly and ate well, and I just happen to miss a few days. I was still that healthy person. Loving yourself, I think that is key, even when you’re not perfect.
So I want to say Thank You to Danica, for a great program and for continuing to be a great role model for my daughter even after racing. Thank you to Bev Patrick for taking away my excuse of “I’m too old for this shit” And the biggest Thank You goes out to my daughter Makinna, for being my inspiration to be her inspiration, this girl continues to make me proud everyday.