How It Began

Ryan and me
Me on September 11, 2016, the day before I began my 28-day challenge

I never had a weight problem until about 10 years ago. I was always taller than most of my classmates through public school, until the boys started surpassing me in high school, but never overweight. In college, I gained the “freshman 15”, but stayed at a healthy weight. In graduate school, I lost a lot of weight because I was living alone, didn’t cook, and rarely ate dinner. I had a meal plan at the college for breakfast and lunch, but when I came home to my apartment in the evening, I was busy completing reading assignments and papers for my courses and often forgot to eat. When I accepted my community college teaching position, I was the smallest I had ever been in my life, a size 6. My mother at the time told me that I looked anorexic. During the first few years of my teaching career, I eventually gained some weight, but I was still a size 8 when I met the guy that would be my boyfriend for the next fifteen years. The first few years we dated, I had a gym membership, I sometimes taught aerobics at the college, and I also took fitness classes with other faculty. However, our relationship was long distance. I lived in Virginia and he lived in New York, so I would teach during the week, then travel to spend most weekends with him or he would travel to see me. I began gaining weight during that relationship around year nine or ten, after I ended my gym membership and stopped teaching and taking fitness classes, and kept gaining. Another factor was that when we were together, he did all of the cooking and I didn’t always know how he prepared our meals. I recall that we ate a lot of food when we were together. During this same time, I became interested in wine, which became a frequent beverage of choice. In December 2010, I knew I had a problem, so I started doing exercise videos every day as my physical activity. It was not enough to make a difference because I didn’t change my eating and I was still drinking wine. When my boyfriend and I broke up and I lost my teaching job in 2012, I worked from home for a year in 2013, which made my life increasingly sedentary even though I was still doing the video workouts. In 2014, I moved to Napa, California, to begin my second career and I lost 17 pounds that first year. However, it was not long until I gained it back, as I spent most of my workday at a desk, I was drinking wine, and I was no longer working out. I was increasingly frustrated and unhappy with myself and my appearance. I would rarely go shopping for clothes, but when I did, I would struggle to find clothes in which I “didn’t look fat.” I spent many moments in tears looking at myself in dressing room and other mirrors. The reality was that I was FAT, UNHEALTHY, and UNHAPPY.

During Labor Day weekend 2016, I traveled to my hometown of Asheville, North Carolina. That Sunday morning, September 4, I woke up and was checking social media and this sponsored post from InMotion Fitness in Napa (now Fit Body Boot Camp) popped up in my news feed. It was promoting a 28-Day Little Black Dress Challenge. I clicked on the link to find out more and subscribed to website emails. I emailed the address on the website and Coach Laura replied that very day. We exchanged a few emails, including questions she asked me so that I would be ready to meet with her upon my return. She also requested that I send a photo of how I wanted to look. My reply was as follows and one of the photos I submitted to her is below.

How I envisioned myself after losing 40 pounds (source:

I can’t remember when I was the weight I used to be. I am fairly tall (5’8″) and I am able to carry more weight better than most because of my large frame, but I am ready to be more healthily curvy, if that makes sense. Attached are photos of women I found online whose body shape I’d like to aspire to reach. I am currently a size 14-16. I just want to look and feel better, be more muscular than fat, but still remain myself. The smallest I have been is a size 6 and now is the largest I’ve been. I would feel OK as a size 10-12. Size 6 was really too skinny for me, I thought. My primary challenge has been finding time to work out and finding meals for one person that are easy to prepare and taste good. I am not a cook and I don’t really enjoy a lot of work to prepare meals for one. I also work 8:00-4:30 Monday through Friday  and also work a couple of part-time jobs and come home without much energy to do anything. I will send or bring my food journal on Tuesday. I eat OK about 80% of the time. I’ve been exploring less meat and more protein like eggs and low-fat yogurt. I eat more vegetables than fruits. I don’t like sweets or bread.

Because of her prompt response and a coupon code I found online, I enrolled for the challenge immediately. The following week, we met and measured weight and body fat and discussed my email and the answers to my questions. I was obese and she told me I needed to lose at least 10% body fat or approximately 40 pounds to be within a healthy zone. The number of workouts per week would determine how fast I would lose. I also asked for a meal plan outline because I am not really a cook, which she provided to me. I began the workout and meal plan on Monday, September 12, 2016. I tried afternoon/evening workouts, but I realized immediately that this schedule would not work for me. Therefore, I opted for 6:35 a.m., which would allow me to wake up at the same time, work out, come home and get ready for work, then get to work by 9:00 a.m., with the blessing of my employer. Within the first two weeks, I saw results. When the franchise changed to Fit Body Boot Camp and they offered charter memberships for the first 50 people at their open house on Saturday, October 1, 2016, I enrolled for a year membership and prepaid the entire year on the spot. I knew at that moment that this was going to be a lifetime commitment, a complete lifestyle change, and an act of self love. I was ready to be myself and to be happy again.

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