In the last 24 hours I’ve had no fewer than 5 “reminders” that I need to tell my story – that I need to share why I’m passionate about working a little bit each and every day on being a healthier me. And why I’m so excited to be a Team Beachbody Coach. Okay, Universe. I hear ya.
“Fitness is a blessing – not a chore or a punishment” – Chalene Johnson
I read that quote this morning and tears welled up in my eyes. You see, that’s EXACTLY how I feel about this part of my life, and especially fitness. Do you have any idea what a blessing it is to be able to MOVE your body? I do…
When I was in elementary school, I got a nasty infection that actually entered my bloodstream and made me very sick. I ended up with massive amounts of inflammation in every joint in my body and spent two years on crutches. Two years of constant pain and being scared this was going to be the rest of my life. Two years of pills, and more pills to counteract the side effects of the other pills. And wheelchairs at Wal-Mart. Wheelchairs at the mall. And the teasing. Sweet mercy, the kids were cruel. Daily I was called a faker by my peers, even by some ignorant teachers. They would try to trip me on my crutches in the hall. God it was lonely. To my amazing childhood best-friend (you know who you are) – you were the best a girl could ask for and don’t ever think I don’t remember you standing by my side!
Luckily, that was but one chapter of my life. As I moved into junior high, I slowly started to feel better, but it was really my senior year in high school before I felt strong. Before I felt well enough to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. But years of forced physical inactivity meant fitness wasn’t a priority for me as I entered college, besides a couple of friends dragging me to the Rec Center at Mizzou every once in a while.
I was focused on what I was good at – school and leadership. I held positions in every club I was in and was determined to meet the goals I had set out for myself – study Business and French, study abroad in France, work in France, move to France, marry a…you get the idea. Well, the summer of 1999 was pretty pivotal for me. I did a 6-week study abroad in Paris and Cannes, which was to be followed up by an amazing internship for the rest of the summer in Paris. I was on my way! But I remember the very moment I realized I was on the wrong path. You see, in Cannes they celebrate the 4th of July to honor the Americans who liberated them from the Nazis. It was July 2nd and the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt had just anchored in Cannes Bay. Pre-9-11 they were giving tours to anyone who wanted to go out and take a look. I was walking toward the marina for my tour and I saw the American flag waiving over the castle ruins on the bluff. Pride in my country, in my home, swamped me like a tidal wave. I’d never really taken notice of our flag before, but at that moment I KNEW I was on the wrong path and France was a nice place to visit, but not home.
By now you’re thinking “Good for you, Rebe, but uh…what does that have to do with fitness?” Hang in there.
Back at school a sorority sister joined Air Force ROTC. We weren’t close, but we chatted about her experience a bit and then mid-year an email went out to the school about a 2 year ROTC program for upperclassmen. Something about it struck me and I told my mom about it – she looked at me like I was COMPLETELY nuts. But she had pretty sound advice, “If they need people now, they’ll need people next semester, too. Take this one and think about it – if it’s still something you want to do, then go for it.” That Momma, she’s a smartie. So in May I met with a recruiter and he told me I could sign up…but I had to meet the height-weight standards and pass a Physical Fitness test. Me??
Oh, God. Okay, let’s do this. I needed to lose 25 lbs, not to mention the pushups and sit-ups and running 2 miles in 21 minutes…now remember – crutches? wheelchairs? I was starting at a level 0.5. But, I joined a gym and Weight Watchers and slowly the weight came off and the runs became longer and faster and I got strong. It took me 6 months before I was ready to take the test. That’s another moment etched in my memory. Early morning, my brand new boyfriend there to cheer me on and a good friend Liz who ran every step of those 2 miles with me – encouraging me and pushing me. I passed with a time of 20:25.
In the car on the way home I pulled to the side of the road and quietly fall apart.
I was so relieved. So proud. So BLESSED to be able to achieve things I had never, ever imagined would be possible. I cried and cried and thanked my body for supporting me and thanked the Universe for providing me with such an amazing opportunity.
I’ll condense my Air Force experience into this – it was the best time of my life that I would never do again. And, it made me hate fitness. Made me look at my body, my weight as the enemy. As something that could and did get me into trouble – not fast enough, not skinny enough, weight too high. Work out THIS way, at THIS time, at THIS pace. Bah. My self-esteem took a kick to the nuts, that’s for sure. But then I discovered this “new” thing – Pilates and I fell in love. I decided I wanted to teach Pilates upon leaving the AF, so I began to seriously work one on one with an amazing teacher. I signed up for an intensive training program and was really nervous, but on my way.
And life had other plans. My husband, Alex, still had one more assignment in the AF and we were going to California. “Great!” you think, “A Pilates studio on every corner! She was set!” For those of you who don’t know, California is NOT one giant mega-city that stretches from San Diego all the way up to San Francisco. There are HUGE areas that are unoccupied and Vandenberg AFB was smack in the middle of one of them. The nearest Pilates studio was over an hour away on 2 lane state highways winding through fog-shrouded coastal mountains. Yeah. Or, I could take a promotion in my current career field and work on base, 8 minutes from my house. Yeah. When the course I had signed up for was cancelled, I took it as a sign and kept on doing Contract Negotiations by day and Pilates in my living room at night.
We left the AF eight years ago and moved to Chicago. I kept the day job and I was good at it. Didn’t love it, but it paid nicely, so there you go. In the past 8 years I’ve had two amazing babies and oh, God. They are the lights of my life. Buuuutttttt, they were HARD on my body. Both pregnancies were high-risk and I was so scared to lose them. I was scared to move and anxiety = comfort food, plus hello? Preggers over here! So on came the weight. 50+ pounds with the first, and an additional 10 (cumulatively) with the second until, well, I was over 220 lbs at 5’4″ and a size 18.
This is my before picture. This is where I was the summer of 2011 after having my youngest, Jamie. THIS is when I knew I had to make a change.
So I started working with a trainer, tried Weight Watchers (again), and dropped a bit of the weight. And then a friend of mine, who is a gorgeous mama of FOUR, started doing a fitness program at home from DVDs. I took the plunge and ordered it for myself. Little did I know I would find my TRUE fitness love – INSANITY. People, I’m telling you Shaun T can make me work harder than ANYONE else can. I love that man. I get a high from doing a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout like runners get. And the results? Well, what do you think?
Needless to say, over the last three years, I’ve become addicted. I’ve truly come to appreciate that fitness – even when it means getting up at 4:45 to workout – is a BLESSING! Not a chore or punishment. I struggle – absolutely! There are days when I have to yell at myself to get my butt out of bed. But after multiple rounds of Insanity (some of which I finished, others I did not), Focus T25, P90x3, and now PiYo and drinking Shakeology every day I KNOW for a fact that I’ve added years onto my life. I’m a good role model for my boys and they are my biggest cheerleaders. I’m currently down 40 of those 60 pregnancy pounds and man, do I have my sights set on those last 20!
But, but! Here’s the difference – I exercise now because of how I feel afterwards – strong, healthy, energized, BLESSED. Not because I have an audio playing in my head about how fat I am. And Beachbody gave me that AHA! moment.
How could I possibly keep that enthusiasm contained? How could I possibly be miserly and keep this knowledge to myself? The answer, of course, is that I can’t. I want to help others be healthy. I’m returning to that original passion, when I dared to dream of doing something different, of being a positive influence in people’s lives.
I am a Beachbody Coach and I love seeing people blossom and grow on their own fitness journeys, as I continue to work on my own.
So here’s my parting question – How can I help YOU? Do you need support and encouragement? I’ve got that covered! Do you need help with finding your true-love-workout? Do you need to tighten up your nutrition? All of the above? Well, you’re in luck!
Will you trust me? Travel beside me? Support me back as I support you?