In starting this blog, I decided I have to talk about where I have been before I can talk about where I am and where I want to go. This is the story of a chubby chick that ate her way into a serious backside, blew the zipper on her jeans and fell off her shoes. The happy ending is that one day, she got back on her feet, started eating smart and hobbled her way into the demesnes of a personal trainer named Kevin.
I'm adding some photos here so readers may see the dramatic changes that happened. They are inserted on my personal blog, Merty Writes as part of the natural story. Please feel free to subscribe and comment there.
Through 2007 and the approach of 2008, size-wise, I was roughly a 14 misses with a chance at some size 12’s. I regularly rode English hunt seat, hiked and often biked to work. Chubby, but cute, right?
I was working full time, taking classes at an academic institution with a serious level of rigor, preparing to start my senior thesis work and enjoying an active social life. Not to get into the whole sorry mess, but on Feb. 12, 2008, life knocked me on my backside. I got to watch my boss and best friend of 14 years receive a terminal diagnosis, see the firm I helped build be sold to another company and lost my mind in the process.
During this period, I made many decisions. Most of them were bad. I was angry, self-destructive and had no outlet for my grief. I never had the chance to slow down and stop the juggernaut of a life I was now living.
So, I did what any Sicilian woman would do. I ate.
(Let’s be clear, I ate a lot. I also drank a lot of wine. Anyone who owned stock in M&M’s, Willamette Vineyards and/or companies that make nachos made a fortune.)
I realized I was taking on much larger proportions when I had to invest in a pair of size 16 jeans to ride at the barn and my chaps no longer zipped. I kept eating. I knew it was bad when a co-worker tried to talk to me, remarking she’d never seen me eat such unhealthy items day after day and that she was worried by my size.
I kept right on eating, even after the zipper blew on those jeans during a riding lesson as I jumped a fence. Yes, you read that right. I busted my pants – my FAT pants – and kept on seeking comfort in nachos, pizza, takeout, martinis and wine.
May 2009 arrived and suddenly my graduation from college had arrived. On Honors Day, I wore a pair of 18W trousers. I cringe just looking at the photos from that day – and it got worse before it got better.
Six days before graduation, I fell off my shoes – fabulous backless platform wedges – while climbing into my SUV. Funny thing, I’d glanced at my bike on my way to the truck and thought, “I need to start riding to work again." Thirty seconds later, there I was, on my back in the garage, grateful to have not slammed my head into the snow blower on the way down, but well aware my left ankle was busted and my right foot was stuck up under the dashboard with blood running down my leg.
Welcome to the Woman from Glad on my drizzly graduation day. I wore a trash bag over my cast and rode up a ramp to the stage in a wheelchair. All I say when I look at photos from that day is “nice cankles."
Hello, broken fibula resistant to healing. Fourteen weeks after the injury, August 2009 brought metal screws, a plate and a bone graft. By the time I got upright, my left leg was devoid of muscle. Peroneal tendonitis, ortho boots and walking aids dominated my life right into the New Year.
Did I mention with the year of inactivity and continued reliance on takeout food I was wearing a size 20W trouser and an 18W dress?
I tried to ride a horse on Valentine’s Day 2010. I removed my brace, put on a riding boot and carefully mounted the ever patient, Sam I Am. I could barely handle a walk. A rising trot was impossible. I had no muscle, lots of pain, and an inability to control my now bloated upper body. I knew I needed to do something. It was time to make some changes and deal with the damage I had wrought.
I learned some really valuable lessons from my late boss. One of the smartest things he ever taught me is that if you don’t know what you’re doing, find people that do. Hire them. Learn all you can. Sounds like common sense, right?
I was 218 pounds. This was a daunting task, but I was determined. I started to watch what I was eating - small changes with better choices.
I went to work with a vengeance. Researching, reading, looking at nutritional plans – asking questions, picking apart programs, looking at statistics, and trying to find one that had a maintenance plan with a proven track record. I finally found a board certified bariatric PA out of Yale and on April 27, 2010 made drastic changes to my eating.
I weighed in at 210.5 pounds, down a few because of the choices I started making already. The pounds started to come off under the new plan, but I was still limping, wearing an ankle brace and unable to ride. I knew I needed to exercise. I tried a brief stint at Curves, but even with an ankle brace, I was well aware that this was not going to be intense enough for me and their staff was comprised of women who were not trained in fitness nor were they particularly fit. Some of them were larger and less agile than I was. So I moved on to a gym.
I started walking on a treadmill, but the ankle did not respond well to the walking. I changed to an elliptical. I was too self-conscious to use the weight area without guidance and had no idea what I was doing anyway. I refused to waste time. I wanted effective and efficient workouts.
Following my late boss, Michael’s rule of hiring people with more knowledge and following their advice, I made the jump to hire a personal trainer and started working with Kevin Carlson. He had a plan for me and created programs meant to help me strengthen my body. Working around my still braced ankle, I started seeing Kevin for once a week private sessions that included pushups on a bench, weight lifting and strength training that left me drenched in sweat. Kevin kept me motivated, answerable, challenged and gave me confidence I lacked. He became my workout buddy and an amazing support system. He was my cheerleader, lauding accomplishments and helping me reach new goals.
By the end of July, I tossed aside the last ankle brace and started wearing small heels. I was getting stronger. Kevin ramped up the challenges. The fat kept melting off. By September, I slid into size eight jeans. I kept looking at Kevin wondering how this was possible. He kept pointing and saying "go.” I went where he pointed. My body kept changing.
I finally decided to alter my custom fat chaps. There was no going back. In the photo taken that day, I was wearing size two jeans. I got to wear the altered chaps in December 2010, delighted to have back strength and power as I cantered the ring.
Mostly these days, I wear two misses trouser. I wear some 0's depending on the fabric and cut. By the same token, occasionally I wear a size two depending on the fabric and cut. I now work with Kevin in private session twice a week and attend the hour long Extreme Boot Camp on Saturday. Accelerated Fitness in Cromwell is my home away from home. I no longer flinch when I look in a mirror or worry about having my picture taken. I'm confident in my body. It's not about having a perfect body. I've seen me naked. Trust me, I am not in the vicinity of perfect. This is about confidence. I have it in spades. I feel strong, healthy and capable. I simply like the body I have, with all its imperfections. I cannot believe I am in this place, but I am grateful to Kevin Carlson and Accelerated Fitness for all the support and guidance that got me here. I owe Kevin a great deal for his attention and guidance. He listens to my goals, frustrations and dreams. He
turns them into a program meant to get me where I want to go, all the while making me laugh as I sweat, lose my breath and work on my conditioning.
Here is where I come to the point of this blog (took me long enough):
Starting in late January, I will be working with the Accelerated Fitness nutritionist who will create a specialized program for me using the tenets of their FirstLine Therapy program. I'd like to drop my body fat while protecting my muscle. My body has maintained my current size for almost one year. It's accustomed to my current eating habits and it is time to shake things up. I'd like to get a little more cut and show more muscle definition. This blog will detail the highs, lows and adventure of this new journey. Emily Woodward of Images by Emily has agreed to attend some workout sessions to photograph the process.
I cannot wait to see what the New Year brings. I'm in such a good place finally. Thanks for following along!