"An amazing mom. She has beaten cancer and currently deals with lymphedema, but doesn't let that stop her. She comes to Stroller Strides several days a week then rushes home to work and attends Body Back two evenings a week." - Kristy Clay, Owner FIT4MOM Central Phoenix & Tempe
Tell us about yourself
I work for a non-profit, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, doing customer service and tech support from an office in my home. I'm also a 40-year-old mom of a little 22-month pixie princess, Maia. I think I'm the oldest mom in my Fit4Mom village here, and I'm ok with that because for a long time, I thought I'd never be a mom at all. Maia is our little miracle.
When I was 29 I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, a blood cancer, and I underwent 6 months of chemotherapy as treatment. We were told there was a possibility that after chemo I wouldn't be able to get pregnant. Treatment worked though and in 2005 I was declared to be in full remission.
Some years later I went off birth control but even after 3 years, nothing. My husband and I came to terms with the fact that we wouldn't have any children of our own. We talked about the possibility of adopting at some point in the future, continued to shower our pets, nieces and nephews with love, and just went on with our lives. Then in 2012, my dad passed away, and a few weeks later I found out I was pregnant.
That same year we also lost my husband's mother Hazel suddenly to cancer. She was diagnosed in July and passed away in September, just 2 months before Maia's birth.
My pregnancy was such a gift. In our grief, we now had this new life to look forward to.
Share where you are in your fitness journey
I am working towards a size, rather than a number on the scale, and I am almost there! I've never been into sports, I've always been more of a bookworm, and exercise was a chore. I hated to exercise. I just didn't do it. Fit4Mom has completely changed that for me. I am more fit now than I have ever been in my entire life.
I started Fit4Mom with Stroller Striides when my daughter was about 7 months old and my only regret is that I didn't start sooner. The moms that I met are some of my closest friends. They are my village. They have saved my sanity more than once and they keep me motivated. It was one of my new Stroller Strides friends who suggested I try Body Back. I had reached a bit of a plateau in my weight loss and she thought it might just be the jump start I needed, and she was right. When I started Stroller Strides I never ran - ever. Now I can jog from station to station. And push-ups? I could barely do 5 and now I am a push-up master. My instructors use me as an example of good form and I admit it, I love it!
What motivated you to make a change?
My daughter is 100% the reason I changed my sugar eating, TV watching, couch potato ways. I was creeping up on... well, a number too embarrassing to share. Then again, there might be other moms out there like me who think losing a vast amount of weight is too daunting so here goes - I was over 250 lbs. When you're that heavy, exercise is hard; your body doesn't want to cooperate, you're moving a huge amount of weight with every step. And when you want to lose close to 100 lbs it feels like an impossible task. All you can do though is take those first steps. I worked with a nutritionist for 4 months in addition to doing Stroller Strides, and I lost a ton of weight. Then when I added Body Back to my fitness routine, that's when I really started to see serious changes in my body. I actually have muscle definition! It's amazing!
I did all this for my health, and Maia was my inspiration. I knew if I kept going the way that I was, I'd likely die in my 60's as a result of heart disease or diabetes. That simply wasn't acceptable. I want to be here to see her graduate high school, go to college, meet the person of her dreams, get married, have children of her own. I don't want to miss a minute of it, so I made big changes. I had to, for myself and for her.
Here is the question our moms are dying to know the answer to: What are you doing to get/stay so healthy!?
I am eating real food and I'm exercising. There's no secret, no magic pill or quick fix - if there was I'd have done it. I work out, I push myself, I stay away from fast food and processed food, I've cut out the sugar that I used to crave all the time, and I am rewarded with results. This is not to say I never indulge. I love ice cream and every so often I have some. No big deal. I just don't have it twice a week. And I keep a stash of dark chocolate in my desk. Am I allowed to say that? It's for when I have a craving and just need a little something. I have a square of chocolate instead of a whole candy bar or pint of ice cream. It actually helps keep me on track.
It can be SO HARD to find “me” time when you are taking care of your family, how were you able to make these healthy changes and stick to them while still doing all of you other day to day duties?
I'm actually very blessed because I have a husband who does all the cooking. I know, I know - you're all terribly jealous, as you should be. :) I could never have made the changes I have made without his full support.
He made the commitment with me to having a more healthy lifestyle and one thing we try to do is plan all our meals in advance each week, and we look for recipes that are made with whole ingredients and heavy on the vegetables. One of our favorites is a Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai. It's delicious. We've also made Sunday mornings daddy/daughter time. It's my one day a week I get to sleep in and have a leisurely breakfast all by myself. He typically takes Maia out for breakfast and then to the Children's Museum. They get to spend quality time together and make memories, and I get some much needed down time.
How do feel now? How has this changed your life?
If someone had told me a year ago that I'd be working out 5 days a week I'd have never believed them. Me? Never gonna happen! And yet here I am. I can't believe I'm saying this but I look forward to my workouts. After a class like Body Back, I feel exhilarated (even though I'm exhausted - I don't get it either). I no longer have to shop in a plus-sized store. I feel more confident. I can chase around with my daughter and not get tired. I feel amazing, like I can do anything.
What are you most proud of? Or list your happiest moment.
There was a morning in my Stroller Strides class when my instructor said; "Look at Amy, she's a perfect example." and then she said, 'You look like a fitness model!" I couldn't stop smiling and that smile stayed with me all day.
What advice do you have for other moms who want to get healthy?
Take those first steps. Even baby steps will get you started on your journey. Start with a walk. Eat real food. Find some other like-minded people to hang out with. Stroller Strides is such a blessing for moms because you can work on your fitness with your baby right there with you! And the moms you will meet will be your cheerleaders and your inspiration. You can do it. I know you can because I did.