I am the average American woman. I get up early every morning to pack my husband's breakfast and lunch, then get myself ready to work 40+ hours at a high stress desk job, then go home to cook and clean for my husband and kids. We have a small farm that requires a lot of work. The kids are busy with activities that we have to drive them here and there for all week long. I find myself stressed out, wondering where did my week go and why didn’t I get anything done? With all this going on every day, how could I possibly find time to take care of myself?

Over the last several years I’ve packed on the pounds. No exercise and fast food as my daily lunch, with several trips to the vending machine. I’d get a quick sugar rush and then within the hour I could barely keep my eyes open and my focus was completely gone.  If I had a bad day, was stressed or sometimes just bored I would binge on whatever I could find. No portion control, no counting calories or carbs, just mindless eating. I would feel tired, drained of all energy or desire to do anything. It was becoming a chore just for me to get in and out of my car. Then one morning while driving to work I heard Pamela on the radio talking about the Go Red for Women Better U Challenge. I instantly got excited about the opportunity to participate in something like that. I didn’t have anything to write the info down with so I called myself and left a voicemail with the info and in the message I told myself, “you can do this, you are worth it and I love you.”I hadn’t loved myself in a long time. I was just living life day to day, not knowing if I’d be able to get up the next day or even wake up at all. I didn’t want to just “live” I wanted to be ALIVE!!!

As I filled out the application for the Better U Challenge, I was thinking of the reasons I wanted to do this. I wanted to do it for myself. As many women do when they become moms and wives, they put themselves on the back burner and start to lose who they once were. I wanted to be my old self again, I wanted to matter to me again. I wanted to get healthy so that I would be able to be a good role model for my kids and teach them a better way to live. I wanted to be sexy for my husband. I wanted to look better, feel better and perform better. I wanted to lower my blood pressure. I wanted to learn to deal with stress in a better way. And just thinking of all the things I wanted to do, started to bring back that desire for life. I knew even if I didn’t get selected for the Better U Challenge, I would follow the women who did and start making those changes in my life.

Then it happened… I got the call that I was chosen for the Better U Challenge! I started jumping, my heart was racing, and I was elated! I told everyone I know. I went into the challenge super excited, I told myself I would do everything they told me to do. I would follow the “diet” exactly only eat what they said and do the exercises they said to do. Week 1 I learned that a good fitness program should make you look better, feel better and perform better. I thought perfect that’s exactly what I want to do.

Then I was given my homework

1) Keep a food log.
2) Punch on the punching bag for 1 minute every day.
I was like WHAT?? How am I going to lose weight and look awesome just doing that? Since I had already told myself I would do whatever they told me to do, I did it. Honestly I started to feel a little bummed, because this wasn’t a strict diet with strenuous exercise, it was slow and somewhat easy. I kept going to the group meetings and learning more each time. Each week I would work on changing one thing at a time. By the end of the first month I had made several positive changes and I started to see that the slow little changes Pamela had me start with had snowballed. I started parking in the furthest spot from the door. I was eating breakfast and still keeping a food log. I would stand and move while on the phone, or go to the person’s office instead of calling them just so I could get a few extra steps in. I found that if I take a little time to plan the week’s menu for our lunches and dinners, it gave me more time during the week and less stress of trying to figure out last minute meals. I started keeping healthy snack at work and in my purse so I never let myself get super hungry which could lead to an unwanted binge. I would take my breaks at work and do some circuits in my office or go for a walk. I realized that my old way of thinking which was “it must be a strict diet and hard workout or it won’t work” and “if you mess up once, you might as well throw in the towel because you’ve just failed again” was so incorrect.

As long as I continue to “make better choices and do something every day” I don’t put the pressure of failure over my head. I am able to go into every day with a positive attitude and really think about the choice I make. I’m learning about physical activity, cardio, strength and flexibility, metabolism and the right time to eat foods. I’ve learned not to beat myself up over a not so good choice, but with all that I’ve learned so far, it’s so much easier to make better choices.

I am so thankful for this opportunity. I am sharing everything I learn with my family, friends, co workers and everyone who ask. I am the average everyday American woman who is finally ALIVE again!