The scale read 240 pounds - not a bad weight if you're 6 feet 2 inches and an NFL linebacker. Instead, I was a 37-year-old, 5 foot 4 inches mother of two, staring at the grim reality of that number.
I had no excuses. I wasn't pregnant. In fact, my youngest child was nine. I wasn't physically incapacitated, unless you count getting winded carrying a clothing basket up and down the basement stairs. I simply lacked ambition, motivation and, most important of all, belief that I could change. This is where I began in January 2010.
So what propelled me from this unhealthy place in my life to running a marathon or becoming a Zumba instructor?
It's a question I've asked myself and have been asked by others hundreds of times. I don't think there's any one particular answer, but dozens of things from years of observation and life experience that set me in motion.
However, one of the most pivotal and positive influences on me was my friends and employers, Mark and Tami DeBenedetto. They're chiropractors by trade and two of the best people you're ever likely to meet. Mark and Tami spend their days healing people from the inside out through adjustments, talking about proper nutrition and discussing the importance of exercise for proper healing.
They practice what they preach. Dr. Tami is an avid runner and Dr. Mark's day is incomplete if he doesn't get up at 4:30 a.m. to get in his P90X workout. I can't begin to tell you how much I've learned from them and also from the patients who came in to our office each week.
I observed patients, of all ages, and I saw, with my own eyes, that a 70-something person who eats healthy and exercises daily is far healthier and more mobile than a 30-something person that lives on fatty foods and leads a sedentary lifestyle. I've seen the pain, physical and emotional, that excessive weight and bodily neglect can put on a person. More importantly than that, I've felt it.
As if the fact that my size 18/20 pants were busting at the seams wasn't enough, that number on the scale scared me to death. What was I doing to myself? Did I want to end up like so many of the patients in pain that I saw on a daily basis? Or was I going to be like the ones who made time to exercise and eat healthy so I could be here for my kids and watch them grow-up?
Everyone has something that works for them. I knew, for me, that surgery or any "diet" plan wasn't the answer. I wanted to do something that I could continue the rest of my life.
I had no clue what all this would turn into when, on the third week in January 2010, I set out on a two-mile walk at the park. How was I to know that my usual two week maximum "let's work out phase" would still be going strong almost four years later? Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that walk would teach me that a "runner's high" doesn't actually mean I need an illegal substance to want to run. I didn't know that running would lead to healthy eating or that the combination of the two would help me lose nearly 90 pounds in a year.
Now, a few years into my "new beginning," I still possess the same motivation, although sometimes it's harder than when the weight was falling off. Truth be told, for me, maintaining weight is the hard part. The key now is keeping the lifestyle that changed me.
Surrounding myself with positive people who encourage and inspire me and have like-minded goals is the anchor that keeps me from losing myself again. Today, at 41-years-old, I can run up and down those stairs that used to take my breath away for an hour if I choose to. Only time will tell if I've added years to my life, but I know one thing for certain: I've added life to my years.