Miriam’s Journey

I am an intensely private person. So when I found myself having an emotional breakdown in the middle of the gym while talking to my trainer, I knew I had 2 choices. I could do something to make a change, or I could pretend it didn’t bother me and keep going. You would think having a breakdown would make this an easy choice. And you would be wrong. I chose to pretend I didn’t hate my body because I thought it was easier than putting in the effort to change. And you know what? I was wrong. It worked for a couple of weeks. I fooled myself. And then I decided nothing could be harder than living every day being miserable in your own body, a product of your own laziness.

miriam2I started being serious about health and fitness 4 years ago, thanks to my biggest motivator – my husband. I joined a gym and Weight Watchers. I counted points and spent anywhere from 1 to 2 hours in the gym 5 days a week. The weight started to come off. I lost about 20 lbs. but more significant than the weight loss was the surge in self confidence that I noticed. I found myself walking into a room with my head held high. I even felt that I could “hold my own” in the gym with the hard core guys. As an orthodox woman, I was used to the stares and curious glances I would receive because of my skirt in a room full of pants. But I now knew that the glances and stares were no longer just because I looked different but because while I looked different, I was really just the same as the other serious gym go-ers.

My trainer, who evolved into one of my biggest supporters, motivators, and all around great friend, introduced me to a fabulous nutritionist. She helped take me to the next level. With her nutrition expertise and my trainer’s vast knowledge of fitness, I lost another 15 lbs. I felt on top of the world. No one could stop me!

A few months later I got pregnant. It was, out of all 6 of my pregnancies, the healthiest one. I exercised throughout those 9 months under the guidance of my trainer. I did squats, lunges, bicep curls, presses, kickbacks…. You name it, I was doing it. People were constantly telling me how fit I looked and how I was so lucky to exercise the whole time. I didn’t gain a lot of weight and I was sure I would jump right back into it after I had my baby. I exercised up until the day of delivery. I took off the required 5 weeks postpartum. And then I headed right back to the gym, so excited to train again. I got to the gym, started my warm up, looked in the mirror, and had a little reality check. I was FAT again. But I chalked it up to post baby weight. “No big deal,” I thought to myself, “it will come off in a few weeks”. Only it didn’t. I gained weight AFTER I had my baby. I had lots of excuses – I was too tired to prepare nutritious meals, I had to take care of everyone else and had no time for myself. I stopped going to the gym, and fell into a depression. I stopped talking to my friends and tried to isolate myself from the world. I went about my daily routine with as much emotion as a robot. My family had clean clothes, food in the fridge, a tidy house, hot dinners. I wasn’t failing them. But I was dead inside. Because I learned that health and fitness isn’t just about you. It’s about everyone and everything in your life. If you don’t feel good about yourself, you can’t really help anyone else.

So that’s what brought me to that moment in the gym. I decided I needed to take the first step, even if it was a baby step. I forced myself to go to the gym, thinking it would somehow miraculously make everything else fall into place. I worked out for 30 minutes. After those 30 minutes, I felt worse. Being forced to look at yourself in the mirror for half an hour is not an easy thing. And so I broke down to my trainer. I told him how scared I was to try to change because if I tried and fail, I wouldn’t only still be fat, I would then be fat and a failure. And that wasn’t something I felt I could deal with. My trainer encouraged me to just try. I listened but I knew I just couldn’t risk it.

So for the next 2 weeks I kept doing….NOTHING. I made no changes in my diet, exercise, or attitude. And you know what? My body stayed the same. I finally realized that if I didn’t make a REAL effort, nothing would change.

So I changed my diet. I started eating every 3 hours. I cut out all sugar and limited my carbs. I exercised for no more than 1 hour a day, 5 days a week. I made a goal and a schedule of how to accomplish it. I wrote it all down. Was it easy? No. And what made it harder was that because this was not the first time I was making a change, I knew what I was in for and how hard it would be. But I stuck to it because I knew that not only was it something I really wanted but it was something that I couldn’t manage to live without. Being unhealthy or overweight sucks. It affects every aspect of your life from your own body image to your relationships with those around you. After losing just 5 lbs, I became a better mother, wife, and friend. I woke up happy, excited to start another day. I don’t know why I fought so hard to change. It may be hard to eat healthy and exercise, but it is SO MUCH HARDER to be miserable.

I’ve now lost 20 lbs. I have another 21 to go. I know I will get there. It’s just a matter of time. Nothing can stop me. Nothing is beyond anyone’s grasp. If you want it, go get it. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.