My story begins long before I entered the Oakland 24 Hour Fitness Center in November of 2008. However, without having done so, I would not have met my personal trainer, Andre Luke, who inspired me to make, and more importantly, stick with the changes in my lifestyle necessary for me to feel healthy and strong again.
Throughout my adolescence and into my twenties, I maintained a very active and healthy lifestyle. I played sports, exercised regularly, felt strong, ate fairly well with the occasional transgression, and, in general, was quite pleased with my physically appearance. Of course I would hear folks say that it’s “all down hill” once you hit 30. Truth be told, I didn’t really consider their comments too much as I didn’t think it would apply to me, perhaps a result of that sense of invincibility young adults have. As life would have it, the morning of my 30th birthday, I woke up only to discover aches and pains in my body that I never had before! The irony of the situation was not lost on me.
From then forward, I started to get sick more often, I was tired all the time, my body ached almost constantly, and, to top it off, I started gaining weight! In addition, my job demands were quite great, keeping me in the office sometimes for up to 12 hours a day. Due to my limited time, my eating habits changed and fast food became my best friend and worst enemy. I had very little time to exercise and, because I was tired all the time, I stopped being the active person I once was. Instead, I would come home and veg in front of the TV with my junk food. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper.
Over the those years, I would get motivated in spurts – eating better, working out regularly, committing that this time I would stick to the regime and get back in shape. I even tried meeting with personal trainers. Every time, I would disappoint myself and go back to my old habits, feeling worse and worse about myself and lamenting the days when I could eat whatever and do a dozen pull ups without strain.
By the time I was 35, I was the heaviest I’d ever been. When your own mother starts to make comments about how much weight you’ve put on, then you know it’s bad! Although I didn’t really see myself as fat, more like pudgy, I was certainly unhealthy. Not only was I feeling it in my body and joints, it was weighing down my spirit. It was time to do something about it! And this time, I really would commit to making the changes in my lifestyle, or at least so I told myself.
In November of 2008, I joined 24 Hour Fitness. Like the previous times in my life, despite my stated committment, I would cycle in and out of eating well and exercising. But ultimately, my commitment and consistency was lacking and I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted. Then something happened that changed it all…
One day back in March of 2009, Andre Luke, a personal trainer out of the Oakland club, approached me on the floor following one of my workouts. He introduced himself to me and started asking me about my goals. At that time, it was simply to lose weight! I had two free sessions from my initial membership and decided to give it one more shot with him as a personal trainer, although I was highly skeptical. I’d worked with trainers before without seeing results. They gave me what seemed liked cookie cutter routines, setting goals for me that were not in line with where I was at in the moment, and generally not really in tune with me.
After the first session with Andre, all of my reservations about working with a trainer were gone. In just that one session, he helped me set my own fitness goals, was able to figure out both my strengths as well as beginning to find ways to help me break down my barriers to success. He was able to put together a routine that would work with my inconsistent job schedule as well as help me overcome my inconsistent motivation. He encouraged and supported me, but held me accountable for my own success. He was a coach and a facilitator, guiding me through my own journey and challenging me to push myself beyond my comfort zone.
Today I can proudly say that I have changed many of my bad habits. I eat better, although there is still some work to be done in that arena. I exercise consistently. I feel energetic and have resumed many of my outdoor activities from long ago. Even my pesky body aches and pains have subsided. Working with Andre has helped me regain the confidence I once had and the desire to do more. Once I accomplish one goal, I set another, moving forward, getting stronger and healthier all the time.
Andre, I thank you for your encouragement, for your support, for your consistency. But above all, I thank you for believing in me and helping me believe in myself.