Fit to be Me winner: Charlene BurnsidePublished on December 6, 2010

  • Fit to be Me contest winner Charlene Burnside (right) with Ottawa At Home editor Mary Taggart.

Meet our Winner! Fit to be Me contest winner Charlene Burnside shares her story with 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

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