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image by Rory MacLeod

My clients often say to me, “You make it look so easy”. It makes me smile inside. It makes me think about how far I’ve come. It’s easy to forget how hard it was in the beginning, that I didn’t change right away.  The journey I live actually started on a very slow and rocky path.

The house is stifling. I am so glad to be going kickboxing. I need to get out some pain. Not to mention my ass is flabby. Courtney is going to sell me her Ozark Fitness Membership so I can start lifting weights. I have this overwhelming need to feel beautiful. (April 19, 1999)

These are my words from my journal. In April of 1999, I had just broken up with a man I had been dating for almost 3 years. My self-esteem was torn apart and I no longer knew who I was. I had just started to date Brian, the man I am now honored to call my husband. I was very unsure of myself and of my worth. They always say it is darkest before the dawn and that is how it felt for me at that point in the journey.

If you’ll notice, the BB King photo in my bio was taken in 1997. The journal entry is 1999. It took me two years to even make a commitment to join a gym. In those two years I made many half hearted attempts, like joining that kickboxing class. I probably skipped more classes than I attended, often being talked out of going by the ex-boyfriend.

I tried to eat the foods I thought were healthier. When we went out to eat I got fish (before I became vegetarian) but also loaded up on rolls and rice because they were low-fat. I ate Healthy Choice frozen pizza for lunch. I got fat free milk. I also continued to bust out of my clothes. By the time I wrote that journal entry in 1999 I had hit my fitness rock bottom. Enough was enough. It was time to get real and move forward.

As I looked at my journals (I have my workout journal as well) from this first year of fitness, they are filled with a lot of doubt, insecurity and de-railers. There were parties. I was working two jobs to make ends meet and to save money for school. I was trying to make a new relationship work. I am often sleep deprived with many journal entries about naps.  There are MANY pig outs for the Free Day. Despite all these things my body did begin to SLOWLY change.

Went to the gym last night. It went well. I think I may have lost a pound, but I won’t count it officially until Sunday. Sunday is my official weigh in day. My 5 lbs. goal may be closer than I think…(August 11, 1999)

Want to guess how long it took me to lose those 5 lbs.? Almost 3 months. I know now that the scale is probably the worst measure of our success, but at the time it was my only indicator. I wrote notes of frustration in my journal but it is the other notations that explain why it took 3 months to see the change I was seeking.  Notes like these appear everywhere:

Watch Fat!!! (This one appears quite frequently. It was the 1990s after all.)

Monitor meals carefully

Heavy Dinner

Not good diet week


Nutrition was still perplexing me, sometimes defeating me. I hit the gym regularly and kept notes of my workouts however I kept no food journal in these early years. I cut portions by following a modified vegetarian version of Body for Life. Food quality was not even on my mind, but I was committed. With each notation, I would renew my resolve and get through another few days of eating my small protein and carb meals.

These kind of nutritional notes followed me until the holidays kicked in. Then I set a new goal: not to gain weight over the holidays. All I wanted to do was hold onto the progress I had made.  Then another bump appeared in the road. This notation started to appear quite frequently in my workout journal.


There are plenty of blank days in my workout log in December. I hadn’t learned yet what kept my body healthy. I was focused on losing the weight, not feeling better. I didn’t sleep enough. My protein and carb meals were things like tofu pups and a hotdog bun not antioxidant filled veggies and whole food proteins like eggs. I don’t think I was taking a multivitamin yet.  I didn’t even dream that dairy gave me sinus problems. All these things caught up with me when cold and flu season hit. I struggled to maintain my new found fitness habits between sinus infections and the common cold.

The stops and starts continued up until January. I managed to keep my weight steady into the new year. My goal in my workout log for the first full week of 2000:

Enjoy being fit at the start of the New Year.

I find that goal amusing now. I remember New Year’s Eve 1999 well. Brian and I stayed home, watching the clock turn over to Y2K and waiting to see what did or didn’t go wrong. We played Trivial Pursuit and pigged out. We ate Domino’s Pizza and Cheddar & Sour Cream Ruffles till we made ourselves sick. I don’t think there was any celebrating of new found fitness.

However, I was feeling better about myself. I could tell by that goal that I was finally starting to understand what it meant to feel good after a lifetime of feeling bad. Still, it was pretty obvious there was plenty of work to do. Almost a year later I was still struggling with keeping my regular workouts and dealing with my food issues.

Still have to make it to the gym tonight. Insane assignment due for Constitutional Law….I will go to the gym and then go home. I feel a bit pudgy today, my diet is atrocious. I need to “stay on the wagon” better. (November 14, 2000)

Did I forget to mention I had added being a full time student again to my duties? This meant food from campus vending machines or grabbing fast food from the student union. It meant hitting the gym after class at 9:30 or 10 pm. I managed to hold my own. It was far from perfect, but I just kept moving forward. Something had clicked and I realized there was no going back to the life I had before –  no matter how hard it seemed.

While in school, I got better at packing meals. I learned how to cook to save money and fuel my body better. Eventually I started keeping a food log, first in a notebook then years later with Dailyburn. I gave up Diet Coke. I won’t lie, that one took a REALLY long time.

To this day it still isn’t perfect. It never will be – for me or anyone else. My clients tell me that I make it look easy. My only response is I’ve had more practice. I’ve got years behind me of trying to figure out how to fit it all in. And I tell them, if they keep practicing, someone will say the same thing to them one day.

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