The one about a challenge…

MPC_RowRaceCombining fitness with collecting charitable donations has long been a regular activity for me; whether it’s Run for the Cure, Relay for Life, the Terry Fox Run and many others.

A relatively new event is breaking the boundaries of the more traditional fundraiser, creating a challenge that is individual to each participant while bringing together people from around the globe.

My Peak Challenge was created by actor Sam Heughan, along with his trainer and good friend John Valbonesi, as a way to raise money for Bloodwise, a UK-based blood cancer research charity. The concept is simple – choose something that challenges you and reach your peak potential. It could be fitness or weight loss related, or just be something in life that participants have put off for too long and need to check off their list.

More than £100,000 ($145,060 USD) was raised for Leukemia and Lymphoma in 2015. Now entering in its second year, My Peak Challenge has raised the bar, putting out a formal fitness and nutrition prep program to help guide participants along the path to personal success while continuing to raise money for charity.

MPC has special significance to both myself and special guest blogger Kim. We each have a family member that has been afflicted by a form of lymphatic cancer, so joining this challenge was a no-brainer. With solid foundations in training and nutrition, we both joined the prep program as a way to contribute to Bloodwise and maybe get a few new ideas to amp up our current training but really felt there was room to push ourselves further.

Enter: The Great Twitter Row Race.

Living on opposite sides of North America does make it a bit more difficult to come up with a team style challenge. Starting next week, Kim and I will utilize social media as well as the space here at Fatty to compete in a rowing based race. We will row twice each week, 1000m one day and 2000m another day and log the time. At the conclusion of the MPC prep program at the end of March, the person with the fastest total average across the weeks wins prestige and a whole lot of bragging rights. To keep things fair and account for the natural ebbs and flows that come with performance, we will each get a bye – a free week where we don’t have to row.

Kim has a much stronger cardio background than I do, since as readers know mine has mostly been in power/strength based sports, so I know for me I’m really looking forward to seeing how I’m able to improve week over week. Many more updates are to come as we get this fun, web-based challenge put together. Check this space for updates from both myself and Kim as we put our internet money where our mouth is and go head-to-head for charity.


Guest blog: Because everyone tells me I have a story to tell….

(Featured guest blogger: Gina)

I am half the person that I used to be.  And I am sitting here writing this note because yet again today, another person told me that I have a story to tell to others.  This is about my journey to the me that I am now.

It always amazes me when someone hears that I have lost 120 pounds, and they ask me how I did it, expecting to hear about some magic pill I took or magic food I ate.  When my answer is “Hard work and discipline” they are kinda let down….hoping to hear a quick fix.  People want to know if I have used a weight loss plan, a drink, surgery and the such.  When I  tell them “not a chance”, they are dumfounded with my answer of “eating healthy and excersize”.  The only thing I paid for on my weight loss journey was a gym pass, and the healthy food I ate from the grocery store.  I always tell them nothing is a quick fix, and if it is, It will not last, as it has to be a life style change.  That is just a fact.

Was it hard?  Of course.  But anything worth anything is worth the work.  And my health was worth the work.  Losing a whole person or half of myself was the hardest things I have ever done…. Physically that is. (emotional and spiritual came into play also, but emotionally I have dealt with harder things, and my spiritual walk also has grown through everything)  For me, it was mind set.  Mind over matter.  “Do or do not, there is no try” as Yoda would say.  And we all know Yoda is wisest of all little green men. 🙂

I will never forget starting to eat healthy (which started with the help of my friend Maryhelen), and thinking that I  would never keep this up.  I remember thinking that I may as well start walking if I am watching what I eat.  So out I would go and do a 5k walk, at slow pace.  After seeing 5 pounds come off I got encouraged, kept up the good eating (lowcarb, lots of fruits and veggies, and no sugar) and I joined the gym.  I am the biggest fan of people who join the gym, and I see them in there at about the size I was (a size 26), and they are working it on the treadmill or the eliptical (which is where i lost the first 70 lbs of my weight), and I smile, and get teary eyed and I cheer them on in my head!  It reminds me of where I was, and I know they too can also do what I have done and improve their health.

My friend Leighton said to me along my wieght loss journey, “Gina, are you prepared for the physical and emotional changes that will happen to you as you are losing weight?”  I thought he was crazy, cause I mean, it was just about losing my physical weight, right?  But, oh, how right he was.  My world started changing.  People viewed me differently, and I got attention from people in completely different ways than I  was used to, and I didn’t know how to handle it.  It was overwhelming for me, but I learned many life lessons during that time.  One of my  students that I taught for 8 years kinda said it simply like this after I lost weight, “Gina, you were always a beautiful person, but now your outside matches your inside”.  And I know what she meant by that,  It was sincere and honest.  It was sweet.  I also know that physically my life changed, as I was more active, and things I did were different than before, so my time was spent differently.  Now, instead of sitting on the couch eating oreo cookies and junk during a movie, I was out playing squash and enjoying life 🙂  Don’t get me wrong, I was the same Gina in the inside, but I now was a more active Gina.

I guess I have been wanting to write something about my journey for a while now, especially when I keep hearing of all these quick fixes that really don’t lend to a lifestyle change, or something you can continue with for life.

Anything becomes a habit after 30 days they say…that goes for eating properly and excersize.  Exersize to me has become a good addiction, a stress reliever and my sanity.  Running something out is sure better for you than drowning that something that is bugging you in a tub of icecream.  I thanks my friend Jenny for getting me into running in the first place.  After losing 70 lbs she was the one who told me to up it a notch, and ran side by side with me for the first while when I could barely finish 1km without taking a break, and thought I would pass out.

I have had some of the most supportive friends and family members during my journey completely encouraging me on my way.

I am the biggest cheer leader for anyone now who is trying to improve their health with weight loss. It isn’t about a quick fix, but about a slow steady determination and discipline to be healthy.  Discipline brings results.  If you want it, you can do it.  You just have to work for it, and it is worth the work.

Five years ago I would have never imagined that I would have lost 120 pounds, that I would run up to 14k at a time, and that I would be enjoying life the way I do with those closest to me, or that I would be shopping for clothes sometimes in the single digits.  I am almost 35 and I feel so much better than I did at 25!

During the last 4 years I have been through alot of physical changes, emotional, and spiritual.  And all encompassing, the weight loss and everything else that goes with it that I have been through has made me a stonger me,,, “a better me” as my best friend pointed out.  It was alot of work and determination, and wasn’t easy, but completely worth it.

That is my story 🙂

Me at the start of my journey: 302 pounds/size 26. Then after 120 pounds lost!