The truth is, I feel like it takes a lot of courage to do what they did, to be available, open, honest and willing to check in and share their journey. In my mind the undertaking was going to be amazing, and because I knew following twelve people was going to be tricky I tried to devise a simple check-in for us all to do. Well, it turns out web-posts for a dozen people from over a half dozen gyms is more time consuming than I anticipated! But, we made it through the year, this fitness crew and me! We did it, and though I’m not finishing with as many as I started with, I can say the experience has been well worth the year. Some of the participants inspired me to do more, some challenged me to look at myself, what I was doing and if it was working, and some, I hope will stick around in my life and become more than just fellow participants in a fitness project.
So the wrap-up of this amazing series was much like the introduction. I aimed to sit down with each of the participants and see what they thought of this journey, how they finished, and where they’ll go from here. Four of the twelve met up with me in January and I have a handful to finish up with in February. What I can say is, life is interesting. They all had surprises, they all had successes and set backs, and so far each of the four I’ve sat with has maintained a place in their life for activity and fitness.
The first finale interview was with Melissa, the at-home representative. From our first interview (which was over the phone because she was also the only non-local on the team) I knew she was going to put out results, but was surprised at how they happened. Melissa wanted to try the Keto diet. I confess I don’t fully understand the ins and outs or theories of the diet plan, but she was in. For the first part of the year she was steadfast in giving it a try. She found online forums to participate with and even used the pee-strips to be sure she was getting into the right “keto” zone. Unfortunately for her, after four months the results didn’t impress. Her body didn’t react favorably to a high protein low carb regime, and she decided to take some time off.
The summer was not a friend to her exercise or nutrition routine. She was drinking and eating too much and not at all active like she planned to be.
Then it happened one night in bed. She saw an ad for WW (Weight Watchers) and got up, got out of bed, and joined that minute. It might have been impulsive for some, but it’s proved to be lifestyle changing for Melissa. Since that night’s decision she’s down thirty-one pounds, goes to weekly meetings to stay accountable and encouraged and recently re-started using weight and exercise videos at home.
Melissa’s stuck with the program long enough now that people are starting to take notice. She admitted through teary-eyes that her husband is a huge support. He told her he wishes she could see herself through his eyes and how beautiful she is and how proud he is of her accomplishments. She admits she can’t quite see the improvements yet, but she can fit in old clothes and the measurements don’t lie. WW works for her; she can eat what she wants, just has to be wise about her choices. She can still participate as she wants in life without feeling restricted, and she admits it was good to stop drinking so much, there were just too many extra calories and negative affects.
The coming year holds much promise for Melissa! She’d like to continue to lose one or two pounds a week until she’s down another thirty and to her goal. To keep her running momentum, she signed up for a half-marathon, Arlington’s “Cupcake Run,” and intends to run the whole thing. Running has proved to be a kind of therapy for her since her father’s passing and she loves how much better it feels to get out there with less weight to carry. It will be a year to be proud of to be sure!
Finally at the beginning of the year I asked the participants where they rated themselves on a scale of 1-10 as they considered their own body image. When we began, Melissa rated herself a 5.5, but after the last half of the year’s successes, she finished with a 6.5 and confidence that in time she’ll get to 10!