My story isn’t a new one. I’ve struggled with body image from a young age. I was an early bloomer, blossoming at ten years old. It made me stand out from everyone and keenly aware of what I looked like.

By high school, I hated my curvy body. I wanted to have slim hips and I was convinced that dieting would give me the body I wanted so badly but nothing worked. It took me until my forties to learn to embrace the body I’d been given, but that didn’t eliminate the battle with my weight.

Food had become a crutch. I was an emotional eater and still face that struggle from time to time.

There wasn’t an emotion that didn’t make me turn to food, except anger. Happy, sad, in love or feeling frustrated; they all meant eating to me. I knew it, but I still couldn’t stop. As I entered peri-menopause my struggles intensified. It was no longer as easy to lose weight, but I convinced myself that as long as I could still do the things I loved, my weight didn’t matter. It was a scary delusion. Heart disease claimed both of my parents, my mom at 52 and my dad at 64, and yet I was still able to convince myself that being overweight wasn’t a concern.

I met Terri in 2010 through a weight loss challenge at my workplace. Her training style worked perfectly for me. Terri’s combination of encouragement and knowing your limits was exactly what I needed, but I couldn’t get my diet under control. For various reasons – okay, let’s be honest, excuses, I stopped going to Terri.

All of the weight I’d managed to lose piled back on and then some, but I still told myself that I was active enough that my weight was irrelevant. I was still hiking, biking and camping like I always had, at least that’s what I told myself. When I had to abort a hike on the Bruce Trail, I was convinced it was because I’d become more heat sensitive as I aged. It couldn’t possibly be my weight. In the summer of 2013 I only got out on my bike once. I told myself it was because I never felt like going out for a ride, not that I was so heavy riding my bike was no longer fun. The final straw came when I was camping on the Labour Day weekend. It was a huge effort for me to get off the air mattress in morning.

I had to face the truth. I could no longer do the things I loved.

I called Terri when I got back from camping praying that she’d be able to fit me in. I knew from working with her in the past that all I had to do to succeed was exactly what she said. Easy, right? Actually, it was, but probably because I was committed and determined.

I believe that the mental battle is the hardest to win.

If you tell yourself that working out should be enough and dieting isn’t necessary, I think meeting your goals will be a challenge. I believe your diet is just as important as exercise and I mean diet in the literal sense – the food and drink you regularly consume. The key is regularly. For me, it meant realizing that it could no longer be a temporary thing. My diet had to change permanently. Does that mean I can’t have a piece of cake on my birthday? Of course not, but by 52, I know when my birthday is and I can plan for it. It does mean, however, that I can’t have cake on everyone’s birthday. I know that it’s what I do 90% of the time that’s important.

For me the gym is the easy part. I love to exercise, but I also expect a lot from myself and tend to push myself too hard, especially when I’ve made up my mind to lose weight. When I returned to Terri I told her that I wanted to start running again – another one of my loves. She put the brakes on right away. She ensured me that I would get there, but I needed to work on my foundation first. If I tried to run before I got stronger, I would injure myself and that likely would put an end to the journey I’d only just begun.

I listened. In fact, I did everything Terri asked of me. Was I always happy about it? No, but when I saw the results on the scale I was convinced. I decided that feeling better and getting back to the things I loved was the most important thing to me.  Terri taught me to listen to my body. If I ate something that made me feel horrible, I didn’t eat it again.

Do I still have struggles? Yes, but as Terri will testify, it’s more with my patience than anything else. By continuing to use the tools Terri has given me I know I’ll be able to reach my goals and stay there. I know now that means continuing with the diet Terri has given me and using her workouts as the foundation to allow me to live my life to the fullest.

Finally, I believe there is a secret and it might come as a surprise. It’s not the diet or the exercise. It honesty – both with yourself and your trainer.  I don’t believe you can succeed until you do both.

Thank you, Terri! I couldn’t have made it this far without you and I’m looking forward to the rest of the journey with you!