I was always active and athletic growing up, but NEVER one for “working out”. I didn’t go to the gym, didn’t do classes, or anything of that sort. I had an older and younger brother, so as the only daughter, my mom and I were naturally close. In 1992, my parents were involved in a serious car accident that left them both with severe chronic pain. As time passed, my mother became dependent on the pain pills and largely dysfunctional physically. Her weight ballooned as her health deteriorated. I tried all I could to “snap her out of it” but it was hopeless. The pain and the pills controlled her life. I thought that if she wouldn’t change for me or my brothers, surely she would change for her grandkids – her pride and joy. But still nothing.
On April 10, 2010, I made one of the most important decisions of my life. I drove 7 hours to her house, walked in and gave her an ultimatum. If she was going to have any future involvement with me or my kids, she had to enter rehab and get help. It was an intervention. Needless to say, it wasn’t a pretty situation, although she did agree to go. She was hurt and angry and kept saying she didn’t want anything to do with us as we drove to drop her off. That was the last time I ever spoke with my mom. Just three days later she died in that rehab center.
In the months that followed, I slipped into a very dark place. I can’t even begin to describe the guilt and the pain that I felt. In my mind this was all my doing, this was all my fault. Over the next couple of years I struggled desperately to find peace. My health began to suffer and my weight jumped from 140 to 160. I finally realized that if I didn’t get this under control, I could end up going down the same path as my mother. I had to choose to be healthy.
I was referred to Excel when it was still at the church. My first day wasn’t pretty. I remember we had to warm up by running a lap around the parking lot. I thought about just running to my car and driving home. I literally felt like I was going to pass out. But, Carolee and the team at Excel didn’t give up on me. She was so patient and encouraging which kept me moving forward. As time went by, I found myself able to do a little bit more and a little bit more. One day, out of the blue, it was like it all just came together. I felt like I was regaining control over my life and my body. If I just kept setting small goals a little further each time, I could accomplish anything I set my mind to.
In the year that followed, I broke through physical limitations that I had once thought to be completely impossible. Seriously! When I first began, the idea of running a mile seemed crazy. But in less than a year, I ran a half marathon! I’ve dropped to 125 lbs and am physically stronger than I’ve ever been. But most importantly, my mental outlook has changed. Excel was the outlet I needed to get through the pain and know there was hope. I can’t do anything to change my past but I can do everything to change my future.