“Butt, butt, butt. Everyone’s got a big butt. What’s your big butt Simone?” PeeWee Herman uses this line in the movie PeeWee Herman’s big adventure to help another character try and figure out what her reasons are for not following her dream. When I try and answer this question for myself in regard to why it took me so long to do something about my weight and overall fitness, I realize that my “big butt” was simply laziness.
I have always been someone who has been in fairly good shape and has been able to manage their weight without paying too much attention to diet and exercise. That all seemed to change when I hit my early 40’s. Probably has something to do with approaching middle age and a change in my metabolism, (or that fact that I developed a late night snacking habit) but I gradually started to put on weight. Just a couple pounds a year. Nothing too noticeable from one year to the next, but after a few years it adds up. Pretty soon the pants are uncomfortably tight and don’t fit. But instead of hitting the gym, I hit the mall and just bought bigger clothes. I actually enjoyed some of the benefits of the added weight (yeah I finally have a decent set of boobs), and my husband kept telling me I was beautiful and sexy (should have had his vision checked), so it was easier to “fix” the weight problem by just hiding it underneath a brand new pair of elastic waist pants and flowing tops, than to actually lose the weight. Besides I loved my carbs! And cheese! And don’t even get me started on anything salty like crackers and chips! Also, the extra weight made it harder to exercise. At a time when I really needed to go to the gym, I just didn’t want to. The added weight meant all the exercises were more difficult to perform, not to mention the fact that I looked like crap in workout clothes. And so I just sort of stopped going to the gym.
The net result of all this laziness – by the time I hit 50 I was 20 pounds heavier than I was at 40 and totally out of shape. So I made up my mind to do something about it. I tried a number of diets and diet programs, bought a ton of workout videos, and even learned how to play hockey because I thought that would be a “fun” way to exercise. But nothing worked. All the diets were boring and after I week or so I would fall back into my old eating habits. The workout videos were too hard and the instructor on the screen never cared when I would turn him/her off after 10 minutes. And the hockey, well I did sweat a lot, but mainly because I was horrible at the sport so I quit that after about a year too. The net effect of this effort to lose weight – I had added another 5 pounds to my frame.
Then in November of 2014 I got a wakeup call. I went to my Dr. for an annual physical exam and was diagnosed with high blood pressure and put on daily medication. This really freaked me out! Heart disease runs in my family so perhaps I was genetically predisposed to this, however, I knew that being overweight and out of shape would only exacerbate the problem and so I resolved right then and there to do something about my health. I don’t have any control over my genes, but my weight and overall fitness that was something I could control. Finally, the thought of having a heart attack or stroke, snapped me out of my laziness.
Coincidentally in November I also attended a free workshop night at a little gym in Eagan called BFIT. During that evening the attendees were able to try a variety of workout classes offered by the gym and hear a little talk about nutrition and supplements. The talk was led by Teri Dale, owner of the gym. As I listened to this fast-talking, high energy, platform wedge wearing, woman talk about eating clean and healthy I thought to myself, “she’s a seems a little bit crazy and really, really intense”. However, what came through the most in that meeting was Teri’s commitment to helping every woman achieve her best self, both inside and out. On the way out of the workshop that night I kept hearing about the 5 month Bfit challenge and after talking to a woman I knew who had been through that challenge (and was going to do it again) I was sold. By December I had signed up for the Bfit challenge, had my first bod pod (yikes!), and was already to start rolling come January 1.
And then came January 1!! At first I felt really overwhelmed trying to follow the eating plan. I call it an eating plan and not a diet because it is really a sound, sensible, scientific approach to eating healthy, not a diet with gimmicky food combinations or prepackaged crap to eat. But, it was a totally different way of eating for me and it took time to get used to eating every 2-4 hours and counting carbs and protein grams. But I faithfully logged every mouthful knowing that I was going to be held accountable at my nutrition meeting with Teri in a few weeks. The hardest part about the eating plan was getting used to eating so often, and portion control. It really opened my eyes to just how poor my diet had become.
Along with the eating plan, I was also assigned a certain number of weekly workout classes to attend. My very first class was led by Teri – arms and upper body weights. Even though she was easy on me, a newbie, I left the class thinking I had made a huge mistake. The class was so hard, and I was so out of shape that I struggled through every single exercise. I had actually paid to be tortured like this? Unfortunately, the answer to that question was “yes, I had”. I think some of this sense of defeat may have shown on my face because one of the other woman in the class came up to me afterwards, introduced herself, and after welcoming me to the BFIT family gave me some of the best advice ever: “Just keep coming back.” And so I did. Week after week, month after month, I kept coming back. Every class I gave it my all. Most of the classes are so small (10-20 people) that it’s not possible to slack off and only go at half speed. One of the instructors is going to call you out on it and encourage (demand?) you to work harder.
And speaking of instructors, they are the best. Each instructor has their own unique style but they all have your best interest at heart and your ultimate success in mind. Teri with her high intensity HIIT and loud, crazy cardio kickboxing class is the only woman I have ever seen workout in 2 inch flip flops. Mark Dale and his Mark Madness class gave my abs an extra workout laughing at his many corny jokes. Theresa and her “I saw this in a magazine and decided it would be fun to try” attitude kept her classes interesting and challenging. Sue “sweat now, look sexy in a bikini this summer” was always so positive and encouraging. And Chad, despite his youthful appearance and boyish charm, he never let you sweet talk your way into a shorter (or easier) workout. I don’t think he is getting paid enough however; he can’t even seem to afford a pair of shoes and is always working out in his bare feet! I have to say that the classes get better, but they never get easier. Just when you are feeling pretty cocky about doing 15 chest presses with 60 pounds, someone will come along and throw an extra 10 lb on for your next set!
After about 2 months of diligently working the BFIT program I started to see noticeable results. My clothes were fitting better and I had more energy throughout the day. Yeah! And so I kept going back. One other important factor that contributed to my success in the BFIT program is the BFIT family which includes not just the instructors but ALL the other women who work out at that gym. Everyone is so supportive of each other, sharing in one anothers successes (big and small) and providing a shoulder to lean on and a much needed self esteem boost during setbacks. These women also hold you accountable for showing up to classes and working as hard as you can. I have not found this sense of camaraderie at any other gym I have attended and while I may not have shown it (I am not a particularly demonstrative person), it meant so much to me. I appreciate all the encouragement I received from my fellow Bfitters in my early days, it kept me coming back. And I hope in some small way I have returned the favor and perhaps pay it forward by sending out the same good vibes to the women who have recently started their journey.
Where am I now? Well, about 25 pounds lighter, several dress sizes smaller, and feeling better than I have in a long time. I just recently went to visit my doctor and she was so impressed with my improved fitness that she is decreasing my blood pressure medication by half! There have also been several unintended consequences of the BFIT program. My husband increased his workout schedule and is now at his lowest weight in the past 15 years and the whole family is eating healthier. My husband and daughter are both addicted to the turkey meatballs and protein muffins and everyone loves S2 days – a typical zero carb day meal of steak and (cabbage) steak.
Thank you Teri and BFIT for helping me realize my fitness goals. Thanks for the support, the encouragement, and the accountability. I have come so far from where I was 5 months ago, but I have also learned that the journey is never over. And so I will KEEP COMING BACK. ~Kim
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