My name is Denise and I am here to tell you about my fitness journey. To be honest, when Morgan first asked me to share my story with y’all I was convinced that she had sent the text to the wrong person. After I picked my jaw up off of the floor and I realized she was serious, I went into full on panic mode. After a good dose of panic, I then went into straight up let the enemy get the best of you mode. For me that looks like:
“I still have so far to go.”
“I can’t do it”
“No one’s going to look at you and think you’ve accomplished anything.”
“You’re the fattest one in the gym.”
The list goes on and on. After a little bit, I took a step back, and talked to the One who has all the answers. And just like that, after a silent and still calm that only comes from Him, I heard “You are more than enough, you gave this struggle to me, so write your story to glorify the kingdom”.
So here we go.
To say the word fitness journey, would be like saying a flight from Australia to Canada is a short trip. I’ve been the chubby chick my whole life. At times I’ve been okay with that, even tried to “OWN IT”. Like people tell you to. But 97% of the time I wasn’t really happy in my own skin. Most of my life has been spent struggling to be healthy, and until the age of 32 I never realized I was on the wrong track. I say wrong because I was doing it for everyone but myself, and without a purpose. So I don’t lose you here, I think it best to describe my journey/struggle/ reality in phases.
Phase 1 or “I’m fat, and I don’t know how to deal with it”
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve always been on the heavier side. Standing 6 feet tall, and with the bone structure of a linebacker, I would look fun-house-mirror-crazy at a size 2 or even a size 8. I was also always the girl who developed faster than her peers as well, so that didn’t help things much. Thankfully, in school I played all kinds of sports so that helped to control my weight. When I quit sports and joined the choir my weight REALLY packed on. Add that to the fact that I wasn’t truly taught healthy eating habits until my weight was already a pretty serious issue and you have a recipe for trouble.
Phase 2 or “ You’re fat, now let’s all try to fix you!”
After the initial high school weight gain, I pretty much maintained my size. Then came college, the-sit-on-your-behind-for-hours-straight college which resulted in less of the freshman 15 and more of the freshman 80. This is when the family interventions, doctors, and random people giving you diet pills and tips started. It really hit me when I realized that I could only shop at 2 stores, and then the depression hit which brought on even more weight gain. Thankfully then something amazing happened. God brought me the love of my life. I got to do everything that everyone said would never happen for a “big girl”. When it came to love, God gave me an awesome guy that loved me just the way I was!
You still with me?
I promise we are getting to the point.
Phase 3 “Girl you’ve got to do better!”
So there I was, happily married, traveling the country with my amazing soldier and the weight just kept packing on. To be completely honest at this point I had given up on ever being able to buy my clothing anywhere besides Lane Bryant. When we had our first and second miscarriages I took that pain (you know the hideous hurt and anger that comes with that) and decided I was going to lose the weight. The doctor told me that the reason I couldn’t carry a baby was because of my weight, added motivation. Then a third miscarriage and I gained all the weight back. I do have to say that during this time my husband was my rock. As I cried in his arms he said to me ”Baby you are wonderful, nothing you say do, or how you look will make me love you any less.” And that got through to me. He loved me no matter what. I had to love me too. So once again I committed to being healthy. For me that looked like two-a-days at the gym and chicken and rice all the time.
At this point we lost our fourth baby and I was at my mental and spiritual lowest. I prayed and recommitted my life to God. Then He blessed us with two beautiful boys. Our family was complete, and my heart was whole but I was at a standstill with my weight and my body.Doctor after doctor couldn’t explain to me why I could gain and lose 30 pounds in a month with no diet changes. When God sent us to Fort Bragg I found an amazing doctor that just wouldn’t give up on me. She fought for me, and taught me to fight for me. It turns out that I was mere months away from stomach cancer because of long standing years of horrible acid reflux. I had a special surgery to correct the issue and then God sent me my squat loving, laugh at pain, deep-in-the-heart-of-Texas strength and conditioning coach, Morgan.
Between diet, exercise, and figuring out the acid reflux I was at a crossroads.
I could take the gifts and answers I’ve been given and literally run with it, or I could walk away and be miserable.
I refocused my life on being a better spiritual, emotional, and fit version of me. I have found peace in deadlifts, tire pulls, and squats. I was blessed with a sister in Christ who will challenge me and call me out when I am being a cry baby. I found a place where I could be honest about my struggle. But most importantly I found truth, love and fellowship in the gym.
Seven months post lifesaving surgery, I’m down 87 pounds of body fat. It wasn’t easy. While I can deadlift 175 pounds, front squat 115 pounds, box jump 16 inches after starting on just a 1.5 inch platform. I know what it’s like to puke because you wouldn’t give up on your conditioning. I still have a long way to go, each day presents its own struggles. I have bad eating days, bad gym days, just plain bad days. But I made a promise to myself, my family, and my coaches. I seek them out when I want to improve, when I need encouragement and motivation.
I leave you with this:
Please don’t ever give up on yourself. Instead, fight! Fight for who you want to be, who you should be. Fight for who Christ wants you to be. Find a Christ like family who will love you at your best and worst. A great community and God’s love will help you to march through your journey, even if it takes you 33 years to get there.