Meet our Winner! Fit to be Me contest winner Charlene Burnside shares her story with OttawaAtHome.ca readers.
We hope you are inspired by her commitment to leading a healthier life, and share in our enthusiasm for making her our contest winner!
Entering Ottawa At Home magazine's Fit to be Me contest was a bit of a lark really! I mean, who enters these things thinking they may actually win?
As a teenager I was pretty active, playing competitive high school sports. Then when I went to university my activity level plummeted.
Couple that with an irregular schedule and unhealthy food choices (the pub anyone?) and you've got a recipe for weight gain. And gain I did.
All my adult life I have been slowly (but most assuredly steadily) putting on weight. No yo-yoing up and down, just up, up, UP.
Add in a professional life, then two babies and like most women, your needs go to the back of the priority line.
And the weight kept on going up. It's a vicious cycle at that point: knowing you need to change something but being too embarrassed to make those changes keeps the cycle going.
In June 2009 I realized if I wanted to see my beautiful babies grow up, graduate and get married I had to change. I did a lot of research and finally decided to participate in a medically supervised weight loss programme.
For me, the thing I dreaded most was physical fitness. DREADED! This fat chick had a gym-phobia. Twentysomethings in skimpy Lulus were to be avoided at all costs.
Ironically I ended up loving the physical fitness part most. I started walking at first, then I trained for a "try a triathlon" in May.
I can't tell you how foreign a concept running was to me but armed with a Couch to 5K running programme I went from feeling like I was going to die running 45 seconds to be able to run the 2km needed for the try a tri. I WAS RUNNING!!!
After that race I needed another goal to work toward, and settled on the Army 5K run in September. That was a challenge, but I did it. I ran the entire distance. Not fast mind you but I ran.
I'm very goal-orientated and after the five-kilometre run I was looking for my next challenge.
That's when I spotted the contest for the Ottawa Athletic Club membership and entered. I've never been a member of a gym. Ever. I had the commonly held perception that gyms were places for the "beautiful people" (i.e. skinny), not the overweight.
After I found out I had won the contest that was my next challenge, getting over my gym phobia. I am SO over that phobia now. I've been a proud member of the OAC since the beginning of November and I love it.
I try to go 3 times a week. Swimming, fitness classes, every piece of equipment you can imagine, weights and incredibly helpful staff: they've really got everything under one roof.
And yes the twentysomethings in the Lulus are there, but so are the grandmothers and the muscle-dudes and the guy next door. And no one cares what you look like or what you are wearing.
So far, as a result of changing what/how I ate and my level of physical activity I have lost 85 pounds. I'm not "done" yet.
In a perfect world I would dearly love to lose another 35-40 pounds but I'm finding these are coming off sloooooooowly. A challenge! I'll settle for another 20 pounds but time will tell. Hopefully in a year I'll be where I want to be.
Follow me on Twitter @CharleneBside to see if I get there!
- Charlene Burnside