Inge's story will touch your heart and inspire you. Yes, she has lost over 100 pounds. But she has gained so much more in her journey as a mom and with FIT4MOM. Here is Inge's story....
My weight has been an issue for me as long as I can remember. Growing up, I was a “chubby” kid, and I cycled through periods of forced dieting with weight loss, alternating with periods of bingeing and weight gain. Growing up by the beach in San Diego, I learned to be a strong swimmer despite my aversion to bathing suits, and as a freshman in high school joined the swim team. At that time, I would say I was overweight, but not obese. Regular workouts kept me from gaining excessively but with much unnecessary “carbo loading” before meets, there was little weight loss either. College added another 30+ pounds and I continued to yo-yo diet throughout my 20’s and 30’s.
When I was 35-years old, I started dating my husband-to-be. We had worked together at the same company for several years and so he knew me in my “fat days” and during leaner times too. Our romance was a swift one and we married less than 2 years later. Marriage was good for the heart and soul, but 20 pounds crept back. Mainly because of our age, and mine in particular, we decided to try to have children right away. We were blessed with a quick conception and easy pregnancy, and our first son was born just after our 1 year anniversary. During that first pregnancy I gained 50 pounds. It took me about a year but I got that weight off only to discover I was pregnant with baby #2. This too was a fairly easy pregnancy, despite my age (now approaching 40), and I gained those 50 pounds right back.
Because we started having children later in life, we assumed that 2 would be our limit and we would be very fortunate if that could be achieved. Since it happened so quickly and effortlessly with the first 2, we decided shortly after my 40th birthday that we would go for #3. Little did we know that would set us off on an emotional roller coaster that would eventually culminate 3 ½ years later with the birth of a healthy baby. In the intervening time, we suffered through 7 miscarriages, including one following a devastating car accident, and turned to IVF as our last hope. My first 2 IVF cycles were a disaster ending either in cancellation or a negative pregnancy test. My 3rd cycle ended with my 8th miscarriage and broken dreams. In my case, the 4th time was the charm and we were blessed with son #3 in September 2010. With each failed pregnancy, I put on 5+ pounds, then the 50 pounds from a 3rd successful pregnancy, and all of a sudden I was staring at an unrecognizable figure in the mirror, who needed to lose nearly 100 pounds!
I had formulated every excuse imaginable to explain my current state and why it was impossible to change. I was breastfeeding, I was sleep deprived, I was working full time, I had, after all, birthed 3 children, I had no time to exercise, and the list went on and on. I made several unsuccessful attempts to start losing weight, but it was not until our youngest was 22 months old that I finally made a commitment to change. The “last straw” came for me in May 2012 when we were at a beach celebration for my dad’s 80th birthday. Many photos were taken during that weekend. After seeing myself in some of these photos, I was horrified. Somehow I could justify that I did not look too bad when I would get dressed for work or to go out in the evening, but when my image was captured in still photos, there was no way I could deny it. I looked two times the size of my husband, and my youngest child seemed to disappear under my oversized arm!
Even with that slap in the face, it took me another 2 months to formulate some semblance of a plan and commit to sticking to it for longer than a day. On July 10th I set out on my weight loss and fitness journey with a vague eating and exercise plan in place. For the next 2 months, I went at it alone, eating nearly the same thing every day and doing the exact same work out 5 days a week. I was successful in losing weight quickly despite my less than ideal approach. I’ve always said I am good at losing weight, better at gaining it, and really suck at maintaining! This time around was no different. When my sister-in-law approached me about doing Body Back, I had lost about 40 pounds on my own.
We started our first Body Back session together on September 11th. I went in thinking that despite my excess weight (now 60 pounds) I was in pretty good cardiovascular shape. After all, I worked out 5 days a week in my garage for 45-60 minutes at a time on our elliptical machine – all cardio. Assessment Day was quite the wake-up call for me. After our 0.6 mile run (which took me nearly 8 minutes), I thought I was going to pass out, and literally could not walk for a week afterward. Not to mention that I was unable to do 1 push-up or 1 sit-up no matter how hard I tried. During these early weeks, our instructor, Heidi, started to impress upon me the necessity to eat right with a variety of healthy foods, and just how important it is to mix up my exercise plan with cardio, strength and core workouts. (She’s still trying to get me to rest one day per week – that is a work in progress!)
Little did I know at that time that Body Back would change my life! One thing about me and my personality is that I am fiercely competitive, and in this case it worked to my advantage. I took each individual class and each week as a challenge of sorts. I think I was the only one in our first session who had not done Body Back previously and who had never participated in Stroller Strides. I had no idea of what to expect. Some of these ladies were seemingly very fit and at a minimum, most were not overweight, so at first I did not understand why they were there. Was it to make me feel even worse about my condition, or show me what I can’t do? Both of those thoughts were so far from the truth. I smile now when I remember back to those first few weeks, and having to go into the bathroom before class to hide my tears, so distressed by where I was in relation to everyone else. Now, many of these women have become good friends and my strongest supporters, who provide ongoing encouragement and camaraderie, and most of all, have taught me to take the word “can’t” out of my vocabulary.
As I finish my fourth consecutive session of Body Back this month, there is much to reflect back upon with pride, humble appreciation, and heartfelt thanks. In December I met my weight loss goal of 100 pounds lost. During Assessment Day for this most recent session, I ran the 0.6 mile loop in just over 5 minutes, did 26 “real” push-ups, and 40 full sit-ups. On March 10th, I completed my first half marathon in 2 ½ hours, and ran the whole way! I might add that I never ran a day in my life until Body Back came along. And who do you think would be waiting for me at the finish line but a Body Backer from session 1! We both cried and took our finisher photo together! It was such a powerful moment knowing that exactly 8 months before, I was 100 pounds heavier and not able to walk a single mile. Now the conversation flows to talk of triple crowns and sprint triathlons.
It has been an honor and a privilege to join the veteran Body Back family. At 45 years old, I am now in the best shape of my life. There are too many people to thank for supporting me along with way – I hope you know who you are! I would be remiss however to not call out Heidi, Trish and Mendy. You 3 ladies have made the ultimate difference. And I cannot forget my dear husband, who always believed I could do this. His support was unwavering, and never once, even in my heaviest days, did he criticize or say a negative word. He provided constant encouragement, put healthy and well-balanced meals on the table, and sacrificed more morning workouts of his own than I can count so that I could reach my goals. Now it is on to the challenge of maintaining, something I have never done well. I am certain though that I CAN do it and look forward to many happy, healthy and prosperous years ahead.