Thank you, Vicki, for allowing me to share my fitness journey. I'm 46 years old, married with 2 daughters, Jessica is 25 and Jillian is 21, and a grandson, Aiden, who is 2. I've been married to my best friend and love of my life, Mike, for 24 years. We live in Florida, which is perfect for us, because we love the beach and sunny weather here.
I started my fitness journey in 2000 when my father passed away. I decided I need to quit smoking and get healthy not only for me, but for my family. I wasn't really overweight growing up but I wasn't thin either. I never really played sports but, when I did, I was the girl they picked last (lol). At first, I started walking the neighborhood every day but my goal was to be able to run. I could only run for about 10 minutes (thanks to the years of smoking) but I kept at it until I was able to run a 5k, 10k and then eventually a 15k. At that time, I wasn’t paying attention to my nutrition - I was running yet eating poorly and I wasn't seeing any changes. Basically, I was running to eat. My weight kept climbing so, in 2005, I joined a gym. I started out doing nothing but cardio and then I hired a trainer to help me with my workouts and that’s when I started to lift weights. I never thought that I’d love to work out as much as I do. I continue to focus on my journey learning new things every day. I love reading about fitness and working out is my passion - it’s not a chore to me. I enjoy helping other people and love posting about fitness. I’ve probably lost a few Facebook friends from it but I don’t care. I get messages daily from people that I’ve inspired to work out and they ask me to keep posting. I know from experience that when you first begin your journey to better health you have no clue what to do and what to eat. So, if I can help one person a day that makes me happy. For me, there is no end to my fitness journey. Each time I attain a goal I set new goals and keep challenging myself to become a better me.
My first response when Vicki tagged me and said she’d like to feature me for Feature Friday was “For real?” I’m so excited to share my story with everyone! THANK YOU so much, Vicki…you have made my week!
I guess I should start by telling you a little about me. I am 46 years old, and a mom of two wonderful (most of the time!) kids! Maura is 16, and George just turned 12. My husband George and I have been married for 18 years. We live in sunny Florida, and we just love it. Both of us are originally from New Jersey, but we decided we didn’t like the cold, and we did like Disney, so down here we came! It was the best move we ever made, and we have no regrets.
I guess my fitness journey started many years ago. I never had a problem with weight as a kid, but when I went away to college I gained not the “Freshman 15” but more like the “Freshman 30.” When I moved home that summer, I was so unhappy with my weight, and how I looked and felt. A friend suggested I join a gym. As someone who had never been into exercise, I was doubtful. But guess what? I loved it! I dropped all the weight and felt great…I was officially HOOKED! I later wound up working at the gym, teaching the classes and doing some personal training. Health and fitness was officially in my blood!
I continued to exercise off and on for years, but not as consistently as I knew I should. I remained thin, even though my diet back then was to either eat a lot or not eat at all. Not very balanced, not very healthy, but at the time, it’s what worked, so I went with it.
Fast forward about 10 years. I was 39 years old, and that dreaded “40” was right around the corner. I had two kids, and my body was just not the same. I was not fat, but I was not thin or in shape either. I felt tired. All. The. Time. I did mainly cardio, if anything, and weights were not something I thought about anymore. I did know one thing, though. I knew that I didn’t want to be a 40-year-old out of shape mom with no energy or motivation. I wanted to be a good example to my kids. I knew things had to change, and I knew I had to be the one to make that happen.
A few months before my 40th birthday, I started exercising regularly again. I started with the elliptical, slowly added weights back into my routine (at the suggestion of my already in great shape hubby) and something clicked! Big time! Along with this new, regular exercise, I started keeping a Food Journal. To this day, I will say that that was the best thing I could have ever done for myself! I was holding myself ACCOUNTABLE for what I ate! I wrote down everything, and as I continued this habit, I was able to make better decisions about the foods I was putting into my body. I got rid of the “bad” foods, and replaced them with foods that would nourish my body. And guess what? The weight started to come off! My clothes looked good again, I had more energy, and I felt FABULOUS! I lost about 20 pounds, and since it was done in a healthy, gradual way, I never gained it back. I finally loved how I looked again…at 40 years old!
Since then, I have continued to work out steadily. Health and fitness is my passion! I adore the weights, I love pretty much every kind of exercise. I’ve gotten more into the heavy weight in the last couple of years working with a trainer, and my body loves it. I have done two Disney Half Marathons, and one Full Marathon. Even though I really don’t love running, I love the races, especially the Disney ones. What’s not to love about getting a high five from Mickey when you cross the finish line? LOL! These days, my workout of choice has been CrossFit, and I can honestly say I have been pushing my body to it’slimits and beyond. They say that the best things happen when you step out of your comfort zone, and that’s exactly where I am. Change is happening! To this day I still keep a Food Journal, and I log everything. I eat with purpose…I use food to fuel my body, not just feed my body. My diet will always be something that I have to work at, but I love to learn about nutrition, I love finding new, healthy recipes, and I love sharing what I know and hopefully inspiring a few people along the way!
My fitness journey is just that…a journey. It’s the road I choose to travel to live a fit and healthy lifestyle. I don’t know where it will end, where it will take me, or who I’ll cross paths with along the way, but I know that I will never stop moving forward! Yes, there are days that I struggle, make bad food choices, or skip a workout. There are days when I am just not into it. But life as I see it is all about balance. This is something I work on daily, and I know that any struggles I have will only make me stronger and hopefully teach me something in the process. What more could I ask for?
Thanks again, Vicki! I loved sharing my life, and my journeyJ. Sometimes we feel like we are moving very slowly, and forget just how far we’ve come! I think it took me writing this to realize that. I’m a work in progress, and I don’t think I’ll ever be done!
Duane Duncan Jr's Fit Journey
Well let's see. A quick background on myself. I'm 34 yrs old, married to Amber Duncan. We will be married 8 yrs in October. Altogether 13 yrs we have been together. I have a little Boy named Braedon who will be 5 in March and a little girl on the way who is due in April.
I considered myself an Athlete and will always be one. I got involved with sports early on in my youth. Playing soccer for most of my early youth which I believe helped carve my leg strength I have today. Around middle school I switched to football, basketball and baseball. I played basketball up until 8th grade, and focused on baseball and football from then on. My 10th grade year I started varsity both football and baseball. I was a third baseman and occasionally played catcher. My sophomore year on varsity football I started defensive end, played special teams. I think I was third team all area team for defensive end my sophomore year.
After my sophomore year I decided that football was my calling and I stuck to it. I started Varsity at inside linebacker and fullback. The end of my sophomore year is when I really started training and getting involved with powerlifting and strength training. This helped pave the way for my senior year where I would start inside linebacker and tailback. I finished the year with over 1100 yards rushing and 25 touchdowns. Made the All Area Teams on both defense and offense and was selected to Montgomery County East All-star Game.
Now remind you I grew up with both of my parents having health issues my whole life. My mom broke her back while at work when I was just 1 and was on disability my whole youth. When I was 14 my dad became very I'll with bronchitis. Ended up with ammonia and I almost lost him then. Both my mom and dad were smokers and my dad drank quite a bit. My dad fought illness constantly. Had diabetes, heart disease amongst other things.Neither were really athletes or up on healthy living. I grew close to my parents growing up dealing with this. In and out of hospitals all the time. It molded me into who I am today. I lost my dad in 2010 from cancer.
I was recruited by a ton of schools...West Chester, Shippensburg, East Stroudsburg, Widener, Ursinus, etc. I ended up choosing Shippensburg University. They recruited me to play fullback. To make a story shirt I lasted there a year and came home because I had homesickness. I was worried about my parents and their health. I came home and worked and attended Montgomery County Community College. I gave up on football. It just was not that important.
But the one constant I have always had in my life is the weightroom. Powerlifting, fitness and my health. When I was 24 I played semi pro football for the Pottstown Bulldogs at running back. I had a good time prob ran for around 400 yards and 3-4 touchdowns in 8 games. We played teams from all over the east coast. I still had it. But then the reality set in that it wasn't going to pay the bills. I moved on and got involved in the construction industry.
Now let's fast forward 10 years or so. I started a family with Amber and sports were in my distant past, but the one thing besides Amber that was a constant was the gym. My powerlifting and fitness never went away. I vowed to myself especially after marrying Amber and finding out I was going to have a son that I would be as healthy as I could be for as long as I could. Growing up my mom and dad did everything they could for me but there were things they couldn't do because of their health. I vowed it would be different for Braedon. And now my future Daughter.
Quick tidbit. You are as old as you feel. And the only thing holding you back are your own excuses. With that being said that leads me to where I am today. I got introduced to North American Strongman about two years ago by a good friend. I always had the strength background so I started training strongman events and was instantly hooked. Farmers carrys, yolk carry's, Atlas Stones. I have done about 5 or 6 competitions in my 2 years. And most most recent accomplishment was this past November at Maryland's Strongest Man. I placed 2nd in the 200lb class. I missed 1st by 1/2 point as well as a ticket to Nationals. Competing and the National level is my goal and it's in my plans for the future. But I also just love training with my fellow strongman competitors. It's like a big family.
I am where I am because of what has happened in my life. Growing up with parents who had a lot of health issues has forged me to be who I am. Me and Amber are very conscious of what we put in our bodies. And thank god for her and her awesome ability to cook. 4 years ago I was diagnosed with Celiacs Disease. Gluten, Wheat, Barley and Rye Allegry. It was a learning experience trying to make gluten free eating fun. Because it can be very bland. Thanks to her we can pretty much eat everything we used to safely.
Currently I work for a township on the road department, but in December I will graduate from the police academy and fulfill my dream of working in law enforcement. I will be working for same township, but just promoted to within their police department. I am very excited and always told myself there is a reason I was holding onto my strength and youth. Remember you live once and it is never to late to change your path or find the one your suppose to be on. I truly believe I am where I'm suppose to be doing what I am suppose to do. I will continue my healthy living alongside Amber and hopefully pass down our healthy lifestyle to my kids.