Paula Shank

For much of my adult life, I’ve been in denial of my size. The last couple of years were the worst. I had health problems ranging from knee pain to balance issues and skin problems. I assumed these problems were the result of getting older (after all, I was almost 55 and had gone through menopause). I had trouble finding clothes that fit. I justified it by saying that clothing manufacturers were making clothes smaller, and therefore my size 26 wasn’t really that bad. I had trouble sitting in chairs and airline seats. I justified it by saying seats were getting smaller. But in June of 2013 my husband approached me and said, “I’m worried about your health” That struck me. He asked if I would go to a trainer if he got us one. Thus began our journey to health and fitness.

PaulaIn July of 2013 I stepped on a scale for the first time in a LONG time and was shocked to see I weighed almost 300lbs. We joined America Family Fitness and started working out 6 days a week. We also started working with a trainer and using MyFitnessPal and Digifit to record meals and exercise. We bought Fitbits (pedometers) and made goals for steps and floors. We made dietary changes, which were very hard at first. Eating chicken, fish and vegetables is hard when your diet has consisted of fast food, pizza and steak. But we worked hard and the weight started to come off. Our fitness improved, and the staff at AFF Fredericksburg motivated us to keep going to the gym. We also made some new friends and learned a lot about fitness and health. At Christmas, when I went to pick up my son at the airport, he walked right by me. As I called hello to him, he turned around and his jaw hit the floor. He didn’t recognize me! That was the best present! We spent time over the holiday at the gym, and I loved being able to keep up with my kids.
By July of 2014, I’d lost 125lbs and lost FEET (not just inches). I’d gone from a size 26 to a size 8. My ring size went from a 9 to a 7 (we bought new wedding bands in celebration of our success). I went from dreading boot season to eagerly anticipating shopping for boots. I chopped my hair short because I discovered I actually had a nice neck! I traveled by air and actually had extra room in my seat.

Now, in January of 2015, I have maintained my loss (even losing a bit more). Maintaining is almost harder than losing, since you no longer have the stringent plan to follow. However, we still hit the gym at least 4 times a week. I walk 2.5 miles to and from my office each day. (I love the exercise!) We are watching what we eat, albeit with a little leeway. At 56 I feel great; better than I ever have. Next week, I take the NASM Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) exam. I may not ever be a personal trainer, but I want to show the world what I’ve learned over the last 18 months.

So to all the middle-aged women blaming menopause, blaming age, blaming life… YOU CAN DO IT!!