A few years ago, I made a great decision. It ended up being one of those choices that was so monumental that I can look back and pinpoint exactly when the course of my life and health began to change for the better. I made this decision one night in late April about 3 years ago. My birthday was fast approaching, and I as I’ve gotten older, I find myself taking stock of my current situation around my birthday every year: Is my life working for me? Am I happy? Do I feel my life is in balance? Am I helping others? Am I being a supportive spouse, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend? Am I growing and becoming a better person? I never made a conscious decision to do this. Over time, this tradition just kind of started to happen. For this reason, I feel a lot of anticipation, both excitement and fear, when my birthday rolls around every year. It can be a scary thing to examine your life in that way. The answers to my questions aren’t always pretty. However, it’s those answers, if you’re brave enough to tackle them head-on, that can lead you to your greatest catalysts for change.
That night in April, I acknowledged that I had some ugly answers to my questions. My life was an entirely different ballgame for me then, a game in which I wasn’t even playing. I was sitting out on the sidelines, sick and unmotivated. In my mid-twenties my health inexplicably started to go downhill. I was experiencing a myriad of problems that doctors weren’t able to figure out. Some foods suddenly and completely out of nowhere became poisonous to my system. I was mysteriously breaking out in severe hives from head to toe that would refuse to subside. My blood pressure would sometimes take a dive and I’d pass out, or nearly. My stomach wasn’t digesting my food properly and I wasn’t getting the proper nutrients my body craved. My hormones were out of whack and my body was becoming insulin resistant. I could go on, but you get the picture: Jess was a hot mess. Doctors would prescribe medicines to help, but for the most part, I had to learn how to manage my symptoms and the psychological effects they had on me. The anxiety I experienced from not knowing what foods I could trust turned into an unhealthy relationship with what I was putting into my body. I couldn’t nourish myself without that fear gnawing at my insides. My body was fighting against what was good for me, and it felt like a betrayal. I was being attacked by friendly fire. On top of all of that, I had a sedentary office job with a 3+ hour commute every day. This way of life did not bode well for my physical and mental health, and it took its toll. Finally, I had to come to terms with the facts: I was a sick, exhausted, drained, and unmotivated 20-something year-old, who was 40 pounds heavier and unhappy with her life.
Me (pre-Empower) at my best friend’s wedding in 2012. Don’t let the smile fool you.
I let that reality really sink in. Denial was not doing me any favors, and I couldn’t expect the current trajectory of my life to change if I continued to ignore these problems, hoping they’d get better on their own. That’s the definition of insanity, right? Doing the same old things and expecting different results? I went online that night and began looking for a gym in Durham. I hadn’t gone to one since college, preferring, I thought, to work out on my own with fitness DVDs I’d accumulated over the years. I’d be good about it for a while, and then get “too busy”, bored, or both. (By the way, you’re never too busy to take care of yourself. You have to make the time. It’s a choice.) When I discovered Empower Personalized Fitness, what really struck me was Empower’s philosophy of health and wellness as a whole, not just the working out aspect of it. This was a gym that seemed to personally cater to a client’s needs in ways that benefit him or her the most. I made an appointment that very week, and it was one of the absolute best decisions I’ve ever made.
Me (post-Empower and feeling like a boss!) at my own wedding in October 2015. Back to the size/weight that was always “normal” for me plus some additional muscle.
Looking at my health now, you’d never know I was such a sad sack a few years ago. I still have to deal with some health problems, but my attitude about them has changed. I realized there are proactive things I can do to handle and control them. I’m back to the size and weight that I was prior to getting sick. And I feel so pumped and energized! I feel stronger in every aspect of my life. Here are some of the things I’ve grown to love the most about my gym:
- The progress! As I’ve described, the direction of my overall physical health “pulled a 180” thanks in large part to Empower. I feel like I’m an even better, healthier, stronger version of how I was prior to getting sick.
- The energy! When I started I was rundown and depleted, a sad and wilted version of my former self. Not anymore!
- The camaraderie! I know it’s cliché to say we’re like a family, but that really is what it feels like. We’re a tight-knit, fun community, and we love to motivate and support each other.
- The trainers! My first trainer, Kat, showed me how cool it is for a girl to lift weights (no, you won’t get “too bulky”. You’ll get stronger.). Angelo, my current trainer, has me on the road to becoming a full-blown beastette (Heck yes!). You develop a tight bond with your trainer. They become your very own fitness Yoda.
- The classes! I take a variety of classes: Cardio Kickboxing, HIIT Fit, Yoga, Cycle, Tabata, Circuit, etc. They’re all challenging and different, so I’m mentally stimulated and never bored. I can’t get enough of them, and I don’t feel right if I don’t go.
- The confidence! You seriously can’t put a price on how freaking awesome it feels when you’ve accomplished something you never imagined you would. It’s a fabulous high. I still feel a little surge of excitement when I do real push-ups. Pull-ups, beware! You were the scourge of my gym classes in grade school, and I am coming for you next!
This year I actually have some concrete fitness goals for myself, and many are brand new territory for me (Me? Becoming a runner??? Ha! Surely you jest!). I’ll go more into those later.
That great decision I made to join Empower has snowballed into other great decisions that have made me so much happier and healthier. Empower was the beginning of a solution to the ugly dilemma I found myself in 3 years ago. Empower was the match that lit the fire. Empower was my catalyst.