Do you ever imagine yourself completing a major physical challenge and how happy you’d feel afterward? If so, you’re closer to your goal than you think. If you can see the rewards of this goal in your mind – be it a healthier body, recognition, or simply self satisfaction – then you can accomplish it. It can seem very far out of reach, and you might even push it out of your mind because you don’t know where to start. So I’d like to introduce you to three women who stopped thinking about their goal and made it happen.
These women aren’t famous or rich (yet!), but they did push themselves outside their comfort zones. Their journeys weren’t easy. But they drew upon their determination, gathered up support, and made a plan. You might just see yourself in them… and begin the journey you’ve been dreaming of.
At 26 years old, Lisa Eirene found herself more than 100 pounds overweight and teetering on the edge of serious health problems. Her sedentary lifestyle consisted of watching hours of TV and eating entire pizzas and cartons of ice cream by herself. At 250 pounds,a visit to the doctor revealed that she was developing diabetes and had high blood pressure. And her body hurt all the time.
“I was very depressed about my weight and my health was suffering,” says Lisa.” I’d been making excuses for years and the word ‘diabetes’ was the slap in the face I needed.”
Lisa spent the next two years transforming her body and her life as she lost 110 pounds. Against the odds, Lisa has maintained that weight loss for the last four years. It’s clear by speaking to her that she has fundamentally changed her lifestyle.
Diligently counting calories and taking up swimming were instrumental to Lisa’s success. But she also had an “incredible” support system, she says. “I had constant reinforcement and encouragement from friends and family, and even coworkers I barely knew made comments on how much weight I was losing. It was very positive and helpful. I did have some less than supportive people in my life, and they didn’t stick around very long.”
Lisa’s health problems disappeared with the weight loss and she became an avid runner and cyclist. Speaking to her today you can feel her passion – she’s not going back.
When I first met Liz Knight through our blogs, I never imagined this self-effacing, 39-year-old working mother of three had thought about entering a fitness competition. But less than a year later she was on stage, winning first place in her division.
“I would watch fitness competitions on television and admired the strong, muscular yet sleek bodies, as compared to the typical ‘fashion model’ body type,” Liz says. “I like muscles, but the femininity of an athletic body.
“I am REALLY shy and the thought of getting up on stage with five-inch heels and a bikini made me feel vulnerable and fearful,” she continues. “But I wanted to conquer my fears.”
Liz had thought about this goal for several years, but decided to take on the intense time commitment of training once her youngest son was older. She attributes her success to in-depth research and a solid support system of family, friends, the online fitness community, and her coach.
How did she keep going when the strenuous training schedule and restrictive diet got to be too much?
Liz posted her progress pictures and her goal in plain view so she could see them easily. “I posted sticky notes on my fridge and cupboards with little positive sayings. I really wanted to be successful at this and I knew that it would take very serious commitment to succeed.”
When Jennifer decided to train for a triathlon in 2006, she wasn’t exercising on a regular basis and certainly didn’t consider herself “athletic.” But she became driven to master the three athletic components of the race (running, cycling, and swimming) after witnessing a friend’s mother complete a triathlon – with multiple sclerosis.
“As I watched her compete, I was inspired by her energy, determination, and excitement for the race,” says Jennifer. “I began to look around me and truly take in the moment. There were women of all ages, from early 20’s to late 60’s and all shapes and sizes. It occurred to me that so many of these women were just like me.
“I was so inspired by that day. I made it my goal to participate in a triathlon and had no doubt I could succeed.”
To prepare for the challenge, Jennifer joined a triathlon club that helped organize workouts and provided coaching on technique. Here she also found support from the triathlon community. “I found many of the people were eager to share their tips and experiences and always offered words of encouragement.”
Throughout the time-intensive training schedule and tendinitis in her bicep, Jennifer kept her eye on the goal. She has since completed two more triathlons.
“It’s one thing to go into it with this idea that I could do it. It is another to actually put forth the effort and hard work and actually cross the finish line,” Jennifer says. “It was wonderful to know I had it in me to accomplish something so unfamiliar and so far out of my comfort zone.”