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Putting the weight back on

Those of you who watch NBC’s Biggest Loser know that one of the challenges they put contestants through toward the end of their journey is to don the weight they have lost while participating in a form of strenuous exercise or physical challenge. My friend and mentor, O’Neal Hampton, was one of those contestants on Season 9’s Biggest Loser and we have discussed what this felt like and how truly difficult it was – physically and emotionally.

Well, this morning, my friend Sean (a personal trainer) was walking the lake with LoriSchaefer-before-afterme and telling me about his 40 pound weighted vest, which just happened to be in the car. I spouted off and said I would wear the vest. No problem. How heavy could 40 pounds be at this stage of the game?

Of course you know where this is going. It didn’t take Sean two minutes to yank the vest from the car and strap it on me. So, for my last lap around the lake, I donned the 40 pounds weighted vest. Mind you, it was only 40 pounds evenly distributed on my upper body. But the minute he strapped it on me, I felt a heavy load.

About half way around the 1.6 mile lap I started to feel my posture change – my shoulders grew heavy and I had to concentrate on standing up straight and working my core. And, yes, it’s possible I started to complain a bit. By the end of the 1.6 miles, I couldn’t wait to get the thing off. It reminded me of my days at Fitness North boot camp where I carried way more weight than that around on my body. I did circuits, long hikes and mountain climbs all with +200 pounds. I remember telling coach Leif Anderson at one point that he may as well climb on my back because I was literally carrying his entire body weight up the mountain.

Putting my jaunt around the lake in a 40 pound weighted vest in perspective. For much of my adult life, I carried around 5x that amount of weight (40 pounds x 5 = 200 pounds). When I attended Fitness North I weighed upwards of 360 pounds and we were pushed, like they were on the Biggest Loser, way past what we thought we were capable of. And it was the best thing that ever happened to me! Without question.

The truth is, I have been struggling mentally of late. Work and life stress have me battling a bit more than usual with emotional eating and fighting to keep myself in the center of the equation. For the first time in more than 20 months, I had a dream that I put my weight back on. A nightmare, really!

This morning I was reminded in a very real way, how I never want to get back to that place. And, how fortunate I am to have friends and trainers, like Sean Faris, Sandra Swami and Leif Anderson who will help keep me in check. Thank you Fitness North – O’Neal, Leif, Jay and crew for challenging me beyond what I thought were my limits to show me that I have very few and can do almost anything.

And, to my friend Sean, thank you for reminding in a very real way how much I have gained by losing 200 pounds and how I NEVER want to go back there – even +40 pounds. You push me, you annoy me sometimes, and you challenge me to be my best. I kind of like that! 🙂

To those of you in mid transformation journey, when you find you are faltering in your resolve or feeling down about how far you have yet to go to get to goal. I challenge you to don the weight you have lost and see what it feels like. Hold it, experience it and get in touch with your emotions around it. It is a very real and powerful way to appreciate your accomplishment and keep on walking when the going gets tough.

There is no turning back. We only go forward from here!



 P.S. We didn’t take a photo of me in the vest this morning, but this whole exercise reminded me of my initial inspiration in getting to this place. Thank you O’Neal Hampton Jr. for paving the way and giving me the hope and the courage to change my life. 🙂


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