Amazing Women with Amazing Results!
Empower Fitness is a HUGE game changer for me. I LOVE the women I have met and I LOVE the workouts! I love that everyone is so genuine. I have had conversations with my daughters about friendships: and my mantra is that you need to be around people that boost you up, not bring you down. Empower does that—we cheer each other on when someone goes up in weight (with kettlebells, I mean!) and we celebrate ALL the good stuff—little and big stuff!
My health journey has been going on for the past three years: The first fifty pounds came off pretty easy. I was working out often —for the first time EVER--and I was doing my first (of several) Whole 30. The next 15 came off in the next year…and then I gained 23 back. I was frustrated, because I was working out often—but being honest with myself, I was giving myself a lot of “passes” for any reason or event. (Just because you work out doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want ALL THE TIME, ELAINESULLIVAN.)
On January 1st, I decided that I needed to be super honest with myself and I needed a change. I started a bullet journal WHICH HAS CHANGED MY LIFE. I decided to start tracking all the great things I was doing, even if the weight wasn’t coming off. I made a page about why I like coming to the gym at 5:30 in the morning. I made another page tracking how many pounds I planned on losing by June 1 with squares I could color in for each pound I lost. I had lists of food ideas. I made monthly grids with squares that I could color in if I did my daily “Healthy Habits”, which included everything from tracking my food, to water intake, to getting to sleep by 10 pm, to walking 10,000 steps a day. For me, this really worked! We all do SO MANY “right” things—and I just needed to see that I was on the right track!
In March I got a FitBit and joined Weight Watchers. I do a Stepbet, where I can win money if I make my daily step goal six days a week for six weeks. I do FitBit “Workweek Hustles” with friends from the gym (no money there—just glory!) and I challenge myself before I go to bed to get to the next 1,000 steps (which often means walking around my room for ten minutes). I even have a page in my bullet journal of friends and neighbors I can ask to take me for a walk.
In June, I started doing Macros and Muscles. I love the positive attitude and great tips my coach gives me. I have begun SERIOUSLY tracking my food. I won’t lie, this has been a huge challenge for me, but it’s working. I am eating the same meals as my family and I don’t feel deprived or hungry (seriously, ever). I feel stronger. I have way better endurance. It is SO much easier for me when I get off track to get back **on** track.
I’ve lost 25 pounds (and some of those pounds I have lost more than once!) since January 1 —and made another journal page about losing 25 more by January 1, 2018, with mini rewards for each five pounds I lose. My total weight loss is 68 pounds (since July 1, 2014).
This has NOT been an easy journey. It is so hard! I have gotten off track too many times to count. IT IS ALL GOOD. I am here to prove that ANYONE can do this.
I will never, ever be able to repay Celeste and Donald for all that I can do now because of their continual motivation, PATIENCE and understanding.
Gillian & Tracy
One blustery and rather icy Tuesday in December, 2015, school was cancelled, it was 1:30 pm and I was still lying in bed. I was curled up in flannel, fuzzy socks and comforters. I was happy to have the day off and planned to stay in bed for most of the day. However, mom came up the stairs and announced:
“Get out of bed, you are coming to the gym with me”
I had never worked out in a gym a day in my life, and there she was declaring that she and I were going to the gym and there was to be no arguing. After scrambling to find something to wear, I managed to find a ratty t-shirt and some old leggings. “Grab a water” mom said. Then out the door we went. We arrived at the dance studio that used to house Empower. My nerves spiked a little then and I questioned what the experience would be like. Mom smiled, said “You’ll have a blast!” and lead me inside.
Seeing as I had never done anything that involved weights, medicine balls or kettlebells, Celeste had to show me how to do everything. I found myself racing mom to complete the most medicine ball slams and being rather shocked when I lost the race. She and the other ladies laughed while Celeste said that it takes practice and added a cheery “You are doing great for your first time!”
As we headed home, I couldn’t help but feel accomplished because I had actually survived working out, I had actually enjoyed the work out and I had had a blast doing it with my mom. I had a slightly different mentality when I was too sore to walk the next day. I thought to myself: “Never again”, but low and behold, Fairfax called another snow day, and guess who’s mother made them go back to the gym with her?
I began with an official membership in April, courtesy of mom, having had nudged me back to Empower with her. While we don’t always go together because of different schedules, whenever I have a day off, you can find me in the same class as her. She is truly encouraging and we are always locked in “friendly competition". I am so much stronger than I used to be and so much more confident because of her and her seemingly simple request to have me come with her to the gym. Our friendly competition amuses the other patrons and our time working out together is really nice because I don’t always have the time to be around her due to our hectic schedules. I love that we are both striving to live healthier lifestyles and I love that we can do that together.
Lots of love to you, mom! And thank you, Empower, for creating time for mom and me to be together.
I joined Empower in January 2016. Kelly was my daughter's preschool teacher so I witnessed her transformation. She looked happy and healthy and I could tell she was having fun! When she told me about Empower, it sounded like the perfect fit. I don't care for big gyms. I'm not stylish in the least, I feel like everyone is staring and...all that equipment scares me! Plus, I find gyms to be sorta boring. Empower sounded different! I loved the idea of small classes just for women. So I grabbed a friend and we tried a class. I was nervous; I'm not going to lie. The class was tough! I was sore for days! I have a good chuckle when I think back to my first time doing burpees and mountain climbers...it was not pretty! But my friend kept me accountable, the trainers were amazing, the classes were fun and my classmates were super supportive. I was hooked.
I also joined weight watchers, as I was really looking to make a lifestyle change. I was sick of buying bigger clothes and wanted to set a better example for my kids. I want them to see that mom is healthy and strong! I've lost 19 lbs, which puts me at pre-baby weight, but more important, I feel better! I feel good in my clothes. I can see my biceps! I have leg muscles! I can dead-lift 115 lbs! And my family has noticed. My husband was totally impressed when I helped him carry a treadmill and bedroom suite up from the basement a few weeks ago. My kids plank at home and ask to go with me to the gym. I love that Empower lets them come so t hey can see what it is to be healthy, active and supported. This is an ongoing journey. I love being on this journey with all the ladies and I thank them for walking with me!
Beginning the Journey: July 5, 2016 marked the sixth month of my membership at Empower Fitness. I first heard of Empower Fitness just before the Christmas holidays. My friend and colleague Jayne Dunnum introduced me to her friend from “the gym”, Elaine Sullivan. We had a brief conversation about Empower Fitness and Jayne invited me to attend a class with her, but our schedules over the holidays never jived. Still interested in attending a class, I was able to find Empower Fitness on Facebook and to my surprise, I saw a number of familiar faces (Susan Lemery, Chris Curtis, and Amy Vazquez). 2015 was a very stressful year and I wanted a fresh start in 2016, so as soon as winter break ended and I returned to school, I connected with Susan who brought me to my first class. Having friends like Jayne and Susan at the first few classes helped me feel connected and part of the community.
Discovering the Empowered Mindset: Since January, I have consistently attended three classes a week. I think part of my success has been attending the 5:30 am classes. I didn’t choose that time slot because I am crazy or hard core; I choose it because it is what works best with my schedule – there are no conflicts or interruptions that early in the morning, so I have no excuse for not attending. My initial focus was on my overall weight. About six weeks into classes I noticed my clothes were fitting better, so I eagerly weighed myself to find that I had gained five pounds. Instead of being depressed, I shifted the focus to all I had achieved in just six short weeks and thought about the discussions that take place during workouts. Empower Fitness has taught me that being fit and healthy is about more than just losing weight – it’s a mindset that puts emphasis on your physical and mental well-being. Over the past six months I have seen changes in my energy levels, mood, body shape, strength, and stamina.
Committing to Positivity: Last year was a stressful year for me as our family experienced many changes: my husband retired from active duty service, my older daughter graduated high school and when off to college, and we sold a house in MA and then bought a house here in VA. While all these events were positive, I had a difficult time with the all the changes and commotion, which in turn, affected me both physically and emotionally. There were days that I had such a high levels of anxiety that it was affecting my family and relationships. The focus I now have on my own health and well-being benefits both me and my family. Soon, my husband Chris and I will celebrate our 50th birthdays and our 20 year wedding anniversary. My daughters, Margeaux and Monique, amaze me every day and I watch them develop into strong, independent young ladies. My commitment to living a healthy and active lifestyle helps me to stay positive and will hopefully provide me with many more opportunities to create memories with my family and friends. Thank you to everyone at Empower Fitness for making me feel welcome and supporting me with staying committed.
Sometimes I think that it would be easier not to care so much. Not worry about how big I am getting or how much I weigh. Not worry about how little energy I have. Not think twice about having that second piece of cake or another helping of pasta (gluten free of course!). Basically just give up.
But then I realize I won't be able to keep up with my two very energetic kids. I won't be able to do fun things like rope courses or zip lining. I won't ever get to know what it feels like to cross the finish line of a race that I worked very hard to train for. I won't be able to go to the doctor without fear that he will give me bad news of what the excess weight is doing to me.
So I do care. I care very much. I am always trying to figure out what will work for me. What can I do to be my healthiest self and maintain it long-term? These past 9 months have been a powerful journey of bringing together exercise and diet. This is the first time in 44 years I am still feeling so motivated after such a long amount of time. I did my first Whole30 on October 12, 2015 with my friend Susanne. I look back and am in awe that we accomplished what we did those first 30 days. And I kept going! It's not easy, and I struggle every day making the right choice (and I don't always), but I believe strongly in the plan.
I started working out at Empower when it first opened in September. Faithfully, I go every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings at 5:30am. I can't imagine never not going. Between Donald and the 5:30am ladies, it's a fabulous trifecta of trainer, workout buddies, and just the right exercises to keep it challenging and fun.
Since October 2015, I've lost a little more than 30 pounds. But more than anything, I am excited to have more pep in my step, the thrill of wearing a smaller size of clothing, less chins in the pictures I'm in and the knowledge that my cholesterol is in a healthy range and I am not pre-diabetic.
I am not done. Far from it. It is a struggle every day. Every. Single. Day. I wrestle with the demons in my head to make the healthier choice. It will always be baby steps for me and my hope that over time I've gotten further ahead than I have behind.
At the end of each day, as I go to sleep and review my day, I know all the hard work was worth it.
In early 2015, my doctor told me that she would not prescribe me fertility medication due to weight-related health issues, including high blood pressure. Anyone who knows me, knows that, in Brad, I have the most supportive husband a woman could ask for (yes, I really do get breakfast in bed every morning and he cooks healthy, nutritious meals every night to keep me on my clean eating plan). Anyone who knows my seven year old daughter, Callie, knows that, in Brad, she has the best father a child could ask for. After not losing a pound in almost a year, in the fall of 2015, I confided in two of my friends, Jennifer and Becky, that I was feeling particularly depressed that not only was I single-handedly responsible that we were not able to try for a second child, but that I was also running the risk of not being healthy enough to enjoy the amazing child I did have. I was embarrassed by my weight and did not have the confidence or stamina to run around and play with Brad and Callie.
In early January, Jennifer texted me that her daughter’s former preschool teacher, Kelly, was teaching boot camp classes twice and week and asked if I would try one with her. My response was, “I’m sure that would be more than I could handle, but send me the info.” Either the same day, or the day before, another friend started holding me accountable for eating clean. And, with that, my life started to change in 2016.
At my first Empower class in January, Kelly introduced “the Jennifers.” Kelly and the others in the class made me feel so welcome and congratulated me on working hard even though I needed to walk out my burpees while using a chair and walk in place a few times to get my heart rate down. Despite all my modifications, Kelly convinced me that I had accomplished a lot and made me want to try attending classes twice a week. By the end of January, I had lost ten pounds and my doctor took me off of my blood pressure medication. I announced these positive changes in one of our Monday evening classes and I was amazed at how excited Kelly, Kellie, Margaret, Sheila, Jennie and the other Monday regulars were for me (I’d already shared the good news with Jennifer).
For Valentine’s Day, I told Brad that I wanted to celebrate our hearts by attending the Partner Workout (as a bonus, the “other” Jennifer was bringing her husband, Brian, who is a good friend of Brad’s). By the end of February, I was down ten more pounds and found myself disappointed when it wasn’t an Empower class night. With Brad’s encouragement, I added a third class per week in March and he began to join me on Saturday mornings in the co-ed sessions with Celeste.
In March, I lost two more pounds. During past weight-losses, I would have been disappointed with this minimal weight loss and I would have stopped trying. However, with Empower, the scale has become just one of several data sources in this journey. I’m stronger, mentally and physically, and getting stronger every day.
Today, I am down three dress sizes. More importantly, I am off of two medications; I can jump my burpees for 40 seconds straight using the handles; and, I have the confidence and stamina to spend an entire child’s birthday party racing my husband and daughter through a series of jump-house mazes and obstacle courses. Whether or not my improved health will result in a future healthy pregnancy is yet to be seen, but I’m definitely going to be around longer – and a lot more fun – for the child I have (and Brad).
I can’t wait to see what this Empower journey continues to bring and, for the first time in my life, I’m really looking forward to my next workout!
As we all know, we didn't end up overweight and out of shape overnight. The thought of the work that it was going to take to get rid of the extra pounds was overwhelming. I decided that I was content with that way I looked and felt. Until I met Celeste!!! Despite the fact that we live down the street from one another, I hadn't seen her for years! I didn't even recognize her!! But, wow- I needed to know how she made such a HUGE change in herself, so her invitation to check out the new gym was intriguing. I wrangled up two of my very best friends and my daughter and off we went to our first class. I wasn't exactly excited to go, but I had made the commitment to at least try it. That first class was a KILLER!! I couldn't walk without wincing for TWO DAYS!!
Over the 4 months that I've been working out 3 time per week, I have lost 30 pounds and am down nearly SIX pant sizes! But, more importantly, I have shed the uncomfortableness of my own skin. And when I step on the scale now, I still can't believe how quickly this change has happened. When I look back to my start in September, I did not feel very optimistic. I didn't think I was willing to put in the commitment, but as each day came and went, I found myself not wanting to eat the junk food, I was enjoying salads, and I was loving taking our dog for long, long walks. There were a few times that I could get on the scale and be disappointed, but as one pound turned to five pounds, then ten...I was getting excited!! I actually look forward to the workouts now, but even more so, I know that my body is responding to these changes. The big 5-0 is right around the corner for me, but I'm not scared of that number anymore. I feel great!
Let me get this straight...I have never joined a gym. I don't willingly take a walk for fun. Exercise and training were not part of my vocabulary. I am a 56 year old preschool assistant and my future health needed a good shaking. And then it happened...the Empower Fitness opportunity literally fell into my lap the first week of September 2015 when my co-worker, Kelly, urged me to try a class. For once my anxiety at trying new things didn't get the better of me and I went! And I actually came back and did it again! I found the class time, small group and trainer were not only convenient, but I was looking forward to it!
I often hear the word "journey" to describe weight loss and fitness. I use the word "opportunity" to highlight the fact that it was a set of circumstances that made my immediate success possible. As I began to go to the classes regularly, I also began a low-carb way of eating- no longer including flour, sugar and grains in meals. This seemed to be the easiest plan for my family. This, combined with the boot camp intensity, was what worked for me. To date, I have lost 25 lbs. I could never have imagined getting through the holidays without gaining 10 lbs, but I did it! I am positive I can continue with the fitness training because each class makes me stronger- mentally and physically. I didn't know boot-camp could be so challenging and so encouraging at the same time! Even if I don't feel like I can get through it, there is always a trainer or classmate urging me on.
My new outlook on fitness and nutrition will continue from here on out. I would like to say good-bye to extra weight and help my body age slower. I now have new workout friends that are all part of this wonderful opportunity in Burke. This is something just for me. My treat to myself. However, my family and job both benefit from a healthier menu, a more active mom and a happier, less tired, teacher all because I was willing to try something new!