Today, I ran a 5K. I only recently achieved my lifetime PR of 1 unbroken mile, so this came as quite a shock. More like an out-of-body experience actually. I have repeatedly explained to Jake Louro this past year that I am genetically programmed NOT to run. Back to that in a minute.
Although thin as a child, my dad obsessively warned me not to get fat; I’ve struggled with weight most of my adult life. I was overweight in college, moderately obese at 40, and facing a health crisis by 47. My blood pressure was out of control and my heart was starting to enlarge. I was so out of breath with exertion that I couldn’t pull up heavy blankets in bed without gasping for air. I taught my little 6 and 7 year old girls how and when to call 911. They were my “crunches” — their word for crutches — helping me down the stairs because my knees and Achilles tendons were at the breaking point. I’m a single mother and they were my emergency medical backup at home.
When I started feeling sick from cardiovascular complications at work, I decided to quit my high-paying job to spend one year getting healthy. It wasn’t a particularly great time in biotech to quit a high-powered executive job, but I didn’t think I would make it another 12 years to raise my girls to legal adulthood without drastic change. My blood pressure medications weren’t working, my lipids were out of control, and I was developing diabetes. At 4 foot 10 inches and 168 lbs., I had a lot of work to do. I worked out in group exercise for 2-3 hours, then spent 2-3 hours in bed completely exhausted. That was 5 days a week while the girls were in school. I continued eating fast food because I thought that as long as my calories burned exceeded my calories eaten, who cared about the Big Macs? After my extraordinarily expensive year off, I had lost 10 lbs. and was still on a lot of drugs.
My girls and I moved from a life in San Francisco to a new job in Boston. I hired a trainer who came to my house regularly. Together we discovered that my maximum running distance was less than 0.25 miles outdoors. That never changed, nor did anything else so we stopped working together. Last November, I left a large company to join a very small start up in Cambridge. I had a couple of months off between companies and decided to try again — join a gym, try some classes. I loved Healthworks from the moment I walked in. It smelled good, it felt right. I met Jen and she recommended that I try a personal trainer. She wanted me to work with Jake Louro but he wasn’t taking new clients. She talked to him and he took me on.
Jake’s approach to fitness stresses functional movement, metabolic conditioning, strength and flexibility; the whole package. We box every Saturday. I was making incredible progress; nothing I could see on a day-to-day basis, only when I looked back over a month or two. After my one year with Jake, with a big assist 1-2 days a week for 7 months from Mike Engel, I am at a healthy 115 lbs. I have lost over 40 lbs., 11 inches from my waist, 8 from my hips, but wait, there’s more! We cured my hyperlipidemia so my doctor stopped the statin drug I’ve been taking since the 90s. He thinks my hypertension is cured as well and has been systematically eliminating those medications. My daughter Nicole was born 7 weeks early because of my hypertension so this is miraculous.
I was that brainy girl, always picked last for sports. Jake believes in my fitness and ability to improve so he trains me that way. He doesn’t care how old I am and isn’t limited by my mental barriers. He completely changed how I eat with his 30-day challenges. I’m starting to think like an athlete. I’m biking and indoor rock climbing with the girls for the first time in their lives. They saw me in a bathing suit and a dress for the first time this year too. I was a Ninja for Halloween and can work out with 30 year-old collegiate athlete coworkers without shame. I feel kinda pretty again which is mind-blowing at 54. Don’t get me wrong – I am afraid to push my boundaries and uncomfortable a lot of the time. You see, completely transforming your body and mind is hard work… it’s scary and sometimes it hurts. I saw my dad just before he died last month. I got to say goodbye and he got to see me really fit.
Now back to the 5K. Jake told me to do it today, and somehow, I didn’t die. It’s been an unbelievable and life-transforming year at Healthworks Chestnut Hill. So, what are we doing Monday, Jake?