I had made every excuse for not going to the gym- I’m too tired, the local gym doesn’t have childcare, it’s just leftover pregnancy weight and it will eventually come off. I have a three and a five-year-old. It wasn’t leftover pregnancy weight; it was laziness. I decided that now was my time. I looked into my local YMCA. They not only provided childcare (bye-bye excuse) but they were also extremely supportive of local military families.

At first, I just changed my eating habits. I cut out fast food, junk food, and soda. I became more aware of what I was fueling my body with. I went to the YMCA to walk on the treadmill four to five days a week.

Before I knew it, I had lost 15 pounds. It was the encouragement I really needed, but I was stuck. I had never used other equipment before so I was stuck using the treadmill. I had always wanted to lift weights but I was worried I’d hurt myself and it would hinder me taking care of my kids.

I took the plunge and signed up to meet with a trainer.

I wasn’t sure what to expect; would she/he understand my insecurities? Would I get someone I could trust? Would I get someone who would push me to succeed?

I was lucky enough to be scheduled with Carissa. Upon meeting her, I knew we were going to be a great fit. Our personalities instantly clicked and I was comfortable talking to her about my goals and concerns. She and I came up with a plan. She taught me how to warm up, which probably seems simple to most but wasn’t to me. She taught me how to condition my heart and use the treadmill properly (who knew there was a proper way?!). And she taught me how to use the machines and free weights. I was hooked.

Every day I go to the gym, I feel like I belong to something. I feel encouraged to do better, reach for higher goals, and empowered. I know that I am improving my body and my health (mental and physical) for myself and my family. Every time I increase my weights, complete a new exercise Carissa challenges me with, or see my body change, my confidence grows. Although I finally have a body I am comfortable in, I don’t think I’ll ever be fully satisfied. I will always want more, want to look better, and want to be healthier.

I stepped out of my comfort zone and made a commitment to myself. I am so grateful to the YMCA for making it possible for parents to become healthy by including childcare in their membership package. To me, it is not about the weight or inches, but since April 3, 2018, I’ve lost over 40 pounds and 16 inches. In losing, I realized that I found myself.