This week, a member of the community who has reached out with compassion and understanding to others. We love her, Ginabuny. If you know of a member of the Fitocracy community that you feel deserves a spotlight please contact email@example.com.
How did you get started in fitness and training Do you have any pics to share?
I got started in fitness and training because I had yo-yo’ed my weight for 15 years. I was never really heavy as a kid, but always figured I was ‘not athletic’, so I never played sports or did anything remotely active. I had good genes, though, so I didn’t really get overweight until after I had children. After my first child (I was 23) I lost most of my weight, but then after my second baby I got pregnant again 6 months later. Then after my last baby was born, I was about 70 pounds overweight (I was around 215 pounds). I moved to Montana soon after she was born, and Big Sky Country encouraged me to be outside and active, so I dropped all the extra weight. I was still ‘skinny fat’, but I didn’t even know what that meant at the time, so I was ecstatic. I started running and walking 5-6 miles a day. I lost more weight and was about 123 pounds at 5’8”, and a size 4. I divorced and moved to Atlanta, and once I re-settled, became more sedentary and the pounds started packing on. 6 years and 75 pounds later, I was in my friend’s wedding and the pictures of me made me cry. That was the turning point. I started doing DDR in my living room every day, and started using My Fitness Pal to track my food. I dropped about 30 pounds that way, then joined the gym and started spending an hour a day on the treadmill. I lost another 25 pounds, then my friend encouraged me to start doing strength training. I started out using the machines, but she eventually coaxed me into the free weights area… and that’s when I discovered how amazing ‘actual’ strength training can be.
How did you find Fitocracy? How has it changed your workouts?
I found Fitocracy through a friend of mine who works in advertising, actually. His focus is advertising via social media, and he was pointed towards Fitocracy when it was still in its infancy. I had just started weight training, and it seemed like a really neat way to log my workouts. I was also a recovering MMO addict, so I figured it would be fun to ‘level up’ while still maintaining an active lifestyle. Soon after joining I found out how amazing it is to have a supportive network of like-minded people, and I also found the resources available to me through Fito to be incredibly influential. So many knowledgeable people, so much information available on the forums, and such ease of access without having to ‘embarrass’ myself by asking questions… it was a new, nervous gym-user’s dream-come true. The emphasis on lifting weights and the fact that I got more points for free-weight training was actually one reason I started lifting heavier and stuff… and then the results I got from that were so phenomenal that I never turned back.
Do you have any long term goals or direction you plan to take your training?
I haven’t made any long-term goals other than being healthy and strong and hopefully beautiful at 50. I’m 40 in a month, and I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in. I am sincerely considering becoming a personal trainer, because I do find sharing the awesome things I’ve learned with others and watching them succeed incredibly rewarding. I especially love teaching other women to lift and seeing their smiles when they pick up something they never thought they could, or when they move out of their comfort zone and into something that previously terrified them. I know that joy, I know how amazing it is and how accomplished I felt. I want to share it.
What are things you’ve learned through trial and error? What areas do you hope to learn more about?
My whole life is about trial and error – I tend to jump in feet-first then scramble around a lot until I figure out what’s going to sink me and what’s going to keep me afloat. When I first started weight training, I was all about increasing my numbers, and I learned that (for me, anyway), trying to lift too heavy too fast only resulted in me being either injured, frustrated, or both. I have learned to move at a steady-but-cautious pace, I’ve learned to work really hard on maintaining good form and function, and I’ve learned to be patient with myself and not get discouraged if something doesn’t progress as fast as I think it should. I’m always trying to learn more about the things I do – how to get better at them, how to add to my repertoire of exercises, and how to push myself to achieve new heights. Currently I’m experimenting with tweaking my diet, but I do my best to eat in a way that’s maintainable long-term. One thing I definitely learned (and something that I see contradicted a lot on Fito) is that it is good to be open to interaction with others at the gym. I spent a year or so at the gym never speaking to anyone else, never seeking criticism or assistance, working single-mindedly with my earbuds in and my head down. Since I started talking to others, I’ve realized that I’ve earned a lot of respect. I’ve had people ask ME for help. I’ve had people offer me advice and constructive criticism. I understand not everyone is a social butterfly, and that’s cool – but there are tons of resources out there in the real world if you are open to them.
Currently, where would you say your weakness lies? Where do you excel?
My biggest weakness is getting stagnant. I get comfortable in my routine, and then I just figure “well I’m doing something!” and will just plateau and stay there for awhile. I am a creature of habit, and while that’s good for consistency, it’s bad for keeping myself moving forward and growing. It’s a struggle to keep things fresh for myself. Fitocracy has been really helpful in that way, it’s great to have people to support me when I’m unmotivated, and awesome to have so many different approaches to fitness available.
I’d say my weaknesses and strengths go hand-in-hand. I am very good at staying consistent even when I get bored. I am good at making time for what is important, and at prioritizing. When I made fitness and health a priority, it was a struggle to ‘find time’. Getting out of the house and going to the gym is not easy, I work full-time, have 3 teenagers, a husband, and lots of things to do that are often more fun than going to the gym. I’m good at pushing past that and doing what needs to be done, even if it means I’m crunched for time or have to go nonstop from 6am until 10pm. Hey, at least I sleep well!
What motivates you?
This will sound selfish, but it’s honest. I’m primarily motivated by the fact that I want to feel good about myself. I want to feel strong, and beautiful. I want to feel desirable and sexy and capable. I want to love me, and knowing that I’m doing something that is hard (very hard!) and that others often can’t do makes me feel proud. I believe that I can’t love others until I love me, and I have a lot of people to love who need me to be around for them for as long as I can be. Staying fit and healthy and happy are absolutely necessary for me to accomplish that. Since I’ve started working out and building my confidence, I’ve seen a boost in my relationships with my spouse, my kids, and my friends. I’m a happier person. I’m stronger both emotionally and physically. I’m a better me.
Are you using any supplements or special dietary changes to achieve your goals?
I don’t use any supplements. I take calcium and a multivitamin. My diet is basically controlled carbs, lots of vegetables, lean meats, limited sugar. I eat almost no fast food (sometimes I’ll slip up but I steer away from it 98% of the time). I drink a lot of water. I track my food on My Fitness Pal almost religiously, even though I eat the same thing pretty much every day. It just makes me feel better. Again, there’s that ‘creature of habit’ thing.
If you could give advice to someone starting off, what would you tell them?
Be patient. Anything that happens too quickly is going to be short-lived. Be in it for the long haul, commit yourself to a lifestyle change. Learn to make diet and exercise part of your life, don’t go on a ‘diet’ or an ‘exercise program’. Give yourself a break sometimes. Know that you’re valuable and you deserve the best you that you can make.
What’s your ‘secret weapon’, the thing that pushes you or you feel gives you an edge?
I don’t think I have one. I guess just knowing that I’m doing something that is having a positive effect on everyone and everything around me, because I’m a better person for it.
What has the overall impact of Fitocracy been in your life?
Fitocracy has validated me. It has encouraged me. It has educated me. It’s amazing to me that people from all levels of fitness and health awareness can be together and 99% constructive and supportive in their interactions. It honestly renewed my faith in the internet and the denizens therein.
One thing I want people to take away from my story is..
You deserve to love yourself. No matter what, always know that you’re valuable and important and beautiful and strong. Take every step possible to learn and accept that fact.