Tuesday, May 16, 2017

My Fitness Journey: Lea Hartman

I feel like I could write a book on my fitness journey because like most bad habits, it developed over a lifetime. I’ll just cover a few false lessons I learned that I think directly contributed to the condition of poor health I found myself in when I first walked into Farr Fitness. It’s still likely to be long winded, but trust me, this is my condensed version!

I was a skinny kid growing up but my genes did dictate my shape and I got teased often for my rear end. In the 90’s when the ultra thin waif was the ideal, my J-Lo shape was a constant source of torment to me. My own family teased me most of all. “Bubble butt,” and “birthing hips,” were just a few of the common comments I received on a regular basis. By the time I was 17, I was struggling with having a healthy view of food. That summer, I dabbled in modeling and landed a gig for a major national women’s magazine. When the team came from New York to style the shoot, I found myself standing in a room with two of the magazine’s editors as they selected my wardrobe and commented negatively on my body. I’m 5’10” and I weighed less than 130 lbs. but my hips were too big. A few months later, my family moved away and the isolation of my new home was the final push toward developing an eating disorder. I became anorexic. I never ate unless other people were with me and I couldn’t avoid it. Sometimes, I’d go days without food. I blacked out often. My family never really ate meals together so it was easy to hide. I got down to 112 lbs. At the time, I was proud of that. 
FALSE LESSON I LEARNED: To lose weight, you need to stop eating.

There was a guy from my church that was interested in me. We only really hung out in groups. I’d never had a boyfriend before and I was very cautious. I wasn’t in high school anymore so relationships carried more weight. Though I wasn’t sure where this was going (we weren’t a couple), I still wanted to impress him. I cut my hair differently, colored it, bought new clothes…all at his suggestion. In retrospect, I think he liked who he thought he could create me to be, not who I really was. One day I ran into him at the mall and he commented, “I’d love to see how you look in a slinky black dress.” As you can imagine, any possible budding relationship ended that moment but the impact stuck with me. 
FALSE LESSON I LEARNED: What you look like is more important than who you are.

My family moved again when I was 19-years old and though I had planned to stay behind, God made it very clear to me that I needed to go. Less than a week after arriving, I met my now husband of 15 years. For the first time in my life, a guy was interested in me more for who I was on the inside than what I looked like on the outside. He was so vibrant and full of life. He was also an avid hiker and the mountains of Colorado were his playground. We went hiking at least once a week, often more. I wanted to keep up with his level of activity and I couldn’t do it starving myself so I started eating.

Fast forward several years and I found myself married with three kids. I never had any trouble losing the baby weight after the first two but the third one did me in. I had experienced pre-term labor with my second child so when I started contracting heavily with my third baby at only four months, I was put on modified activity. Basically, I wasn’t allowed to do anything except care for my other two children. Our daily walks to the park, bike rides and hiking stopped and I became very sedentary. I began that pregnancy at a healthy 150 lbs. and ended it at 210 lbs. On the day I delivered I still weighed over 200 lbs. I never really regained my active lifestyle and I had also become an emotional eater.

In 2014, I was at my wit’s end. I felt horrible, both physically and emotionally. But I also felt helpless because I didn’t know what to do. I joined the YMCA and began exercising three days a week. It was a start, but I knew I needed help. Unfortunately, other coaches didn’t want to touch me with a 10-foot pole because of some prior injuries I had sustained. I joined Weight Watchers and began learning how to eat healthy foods to fuel my body. But still, after five months, I had barely made any progress (and I was always hungry). I poured out my heart to God and asked him to bring me a women with knowledge and skill to help me. Exactly one week to the day, I met Morgan! And boy, did she have her work cut out for her!

Farr Fitness became my second home and a few months in, when I experienced intense personal struggles, it was my safe haven. I was surrounded by a group of women who came together, not to tear each other down, but to build each other up. I could show up in tears, barely holding it together and be encouraged. Morgan didn’t just teach me to care for my body, she showed me how to have self-respect. She took the false lessons I’d learned as a teenager that had shaped my entire adult life and flipped them upside down! Losing weight wasn’t the same as being healthy and what’s on the inside radiates outward, regardless of what you look like. I needed that encouragement. I needed to have a place where I was accepted, just as I was. Morgan took me, pre-existing injuries and all, and structured a training plan around my limitations. She expected me to work hard but never asked me to do anything she wasn’t willing to do herself.

Though my schedule changed with the acceptance of a new job which no longer allowed me to visit Farr Fitness, my husband and I purchased our own gym equipment and transformed half our garage so that I could continue to work out. Morgan is awesome about listing workouts on the Facebook page so I was able to continue training with her even when I couldn’t be physically present. I’ve lost 35 lbs, 27 inches, 14% body fat, and dropped 3 pant sizes - and I’ve kept it off! But more than that, I learned that I had value, even when others in my life made me feel like I didn’t.

Pslam 139:14 says, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Your works and that my soul knows very well.” For the first time in my life, I am comfortable in my own skin, stretch marks and all. God used Morgan to change my life and I am a better person for knowing her.


  1. You're a rock star Lea and I'm proud to call you friend! P.s. I wanna be you when I grow up!!

  2. Awesome! God is Good and you are rocking an amazing journey.

  3. "To lose weight, you need to stop eating" Yes, This is a wrong idea. Thanks for sharing.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.


We hope you enjoyed our post today. Please remember that this is a Christian blog. Profane, vulgar or threatening comments will be removed and the user will be blocked. Thank you for keeping our little corner of the internet bright!