There are times in your life that your path crosses unexpectedly with someone who you will always remember, because of the imprint they leave.
This past fall someone stepped into my life, that inspires me. She was on my Facebook and so was subjected to all the updates of classes and challenges going on each week.
We had gone to high school together, but had not spoken in years. She reached out to me in an email saying that she was a mother and wife, and that the lifestyle she was living was not how she wanted to continue. She wanted to become fit, and set an example for her daughters. As many mothers know, girls can be subject to bullying and teasing about their weight. She wanted to be a role model for her girls, and I loved that. So we decided to meet in a parking lot one Thursday and she joined the challenge.
She explained when we met, that she had not taken a class in years. She had some health issues, including sore knees, but she was willing to try, as she wanted a change in her life. We talked a little more and then parted ways. I told her to come to class Monday to get photographed, weighed and measured. I also explained if she could not make it Monday the initial gathering of information took place all week. She assured me I would see her Monday.
Monday night at 5:30, we met again; this was twice in the last fifteen years. Little did I know this would be the beginning of seeing this woman three times a week, until…well she still comes three times a week. Now the fact that she comes the first few weeks is awesome, but the real changes begin a few weeks into the Cchallenge. At first, she came in loose clothes and quietly worked out towards the back of the class. She would come faithfully early to get her spot, week after week, but then I started to notice little changes. If you were not looking, some people may not even notice. I did.
She starts offering bits of praise to those around her, she chats with the ladies around her. She is now calling people by their first names, and staying after class to ask questions. Then the first milestone happens when it is time to measure in. The ladies are lined up waiting their turn, when it is her turn, I am nervous. I know how hard she is working, and want her to see the difference that I can. Some people, if they are not happy with the results, the commitment level decreases and they slide or fall off the path. Changes happen form the inside out, and can be hard to see.
I measured, and remeasured her waist. I had to, because I thought I had wrote down the wrong number. She had lost ten inches. In total she had lost seventeen inches all over her body the first six weeks. The look on her face was pure joy. I actually called her on the way home from class to again tell her how happy I was for her.
Now, if you think, losing seventeen inches is the inspiring part, you may be right, but that is not the part that stands out for me. I look for the deeper, more fundamental changes. After that measuring, her commitment only grew. Her squats were deeper, her push ups grew stronger and she could do more. She pushed herself night after night. Sometimes when I am in class I assign a task and watch to make sure the execution is good, and watch the ladies. When I scanned the room one day I didn’t recognize her right away. Her plank was perfect, her belly was high and tight. Her arms perfect position, I could have took a picture and sold it to a magazine. Gone was the quiet woman who had sore knees, and was just starting to be strong, in her place was this role model of fitness.
The next change came a few weeks later, when she walked in class one week with shorts on. I noticed right away, as a woman who has had issues with my weight, I knew what that meant. It takes a lot of courage to wear shorts to class. She explained she bought them months ago, and felt good enough to wear them, so she did. She also wears tighter tanks now too, and looks awesome. Some may scoff at this, but it is a huge step to make a transition like that. I was so proud of her. I will let you in on a secret, I was jealous. I do not wear shorts, because I am too self-conscious. I envied her confidence. She made me set a goal that night that I will wear shorts to class sometime, as I don’t think I ever have.
In December she posted a picture of her going to her Christmas party and the response was overwhelming. Upon seeing it, she allowed me to post a side by side since September, and it was incredible. I am not saying you have to be skinny or to lose weight to be a success, I am saying you could physically see the confidence difference. Others could too, and they posted their findings on her wall.
These are things that inspire me. Women that find their strength. We need to strive to be role models, not super models. So our girls know that being healthy is not about surviving on lettuce and water, taking pills, or skipping meals. It is about food balance and loving yourself. Love yourself enough to put effort into your health. Let them know it is ok to take time to exercise, and you should, daily if possible.
You don’t have to have wash board abs, you need to be healthy and happy. My role models are people that work hard, push themselves, and strive to meet their goals. This woman’s goal was to become stronger, to get in shape, and to be a role model within her house, and she met those goals. Her house now is a home that includes fitness. I love that.
Thank you for being an inspiration Heather. To me, your fitness family, and to your girls.
Kelli Cruikshank is a working resident of Scotsburn who balances being a fitness enthusiast, a mother of three girls and a wife. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org