On January 1, 2004 my beloved grandmother passed away, then in April of 2004 I had to put my 16 year old golden retriever mix to sleep. During this period I went from 187 lbs. to 177 lbs. (Grief is not the best weight loss program but none the less I had dropped a few pounds). People started to encourage me regarding this weight loss and I decided everyone was trying to tell me “you are way too overweight; you are going to kill yourself”. Standing 5’5” at 187lbs. with a family history of stroke and heart attacks, I was a time bomb just waiting to go off.
In an effort to help me cope with the loss of two of my best friends, my husband booked us on a trip to Rome. After 18 years of marriage we had never been on a honeymoon or any kind of real vacation. I finally had something to look forward to.
One day I was on the phone with my mother (who has survived 2 heart attacks) and we were discussing my upcoming trip (she and my father had been to Rome years earlier). In this conversation she was telling me how beautiful the Spanish Steps are in Rome, and that since I was so “out of shape” I could do what she did and sit on the benches at the bottom while my husband walked the steps, I became furious. I thought to myself NO WAY I am only 38 years old and I refuse to sit at the bottom of anything. As that day went on my NO WAY, become a HELL NO!!! I marched myself to the nearest sporting goods store and purchased some 3 lbs. dumb bells and a stair stepper. I think the first week I could do about 25 steps. But I did not give up, I could not give up, I had become so tired of not living my life that I just keep stepping and lifting those 3lbs. weights. 25 steps become 35, 35 become 50, 50 became 100.
When September rolled around, I had to exchange all of the XL clothes I had purchased for my trip and buy size medium. I was thrilled. I was off to Rome at 145lbs. We walked everywhere, and then there they were, the Spanish Steps, and I was at the top, not sitting at the bottom. I think I climbed those steps 20 times during the first few days in Rome. I was the stair master. Then came our scheduled day at the Vatican. My husband told me that to climb the cupola at Saint Peter’s was over 300 steps and he said “lets do it, you can do it honey”. Okay, I told myself and off we went. I made it!!! Then I saw a stone staircase leading even higher, on the door was a notice that said “People with heart/health conditions should not pass”. Oh yes, here came the HELL NO attitude and I was up those step like a complete maniac. What I did not know, was this was going to take 300 plus steps to reach the top, crouched over sideways, I thought my legs were going to fall off. When I reached the final step I could see the sky peaking through the opening at the top, I could hear the people who were up there and hanging in my face was a rope. I had walked all this way, and the only way to the top was to climb a rope. I mumbled under my breath some language that was absolutely inappropriate (I asked for forgiveness later). I climbed that stupid rope and when I got to the balcony the officials came running over to me with cold rags and water, they thought I was having a heart attack. I was so embarrassed.
I was okay in a few minutes, but it was at that moment that everything changed. I was going to get myself in the best shape of my life; somehow, someway I was going to change. Problem was I did not know how, I needed help.
When we returned to the States, I bought every fitness magazine I could get my hands on. I started to study fitness with a vengeance. Then I made one of the best decisions and investments of my life. I hired a personal trainer. Valarie Sanford not only showed me how to get in great shape, she showed me how to believe in myself. Then I found Tosca Reno in the pages of Oxygen magazine (God, had sent me a hero, a mentor, and a teacher). She taught me how to do everything the right way, how to workout, how to eat clean. I am thankful to these two powerful women everyday.
When I started setting my fitness goals someone suggested that I set 3 goals that I thought were impossible, so I did. Fast forward to September of 2007, there I stood on a stage in a bedazzled bathing suit at 42 years old and 107lbs. (Yes, 80lbs. lost) competing in my first figure competition (placed 3rd, not bad for an old chick). Impossible goal No. 1 completed. On to June of 2008, I passed my test and I am now a Certified Fitness Trainer. Impossible goal No. 2 completed. I’m still working on goal No. 3, but now I know it is not impossible. Nothing is impossible.
Anyway, I just wanted to share my story with you. Believe me, if I can do it anyone can.