When Michele Mudrow looks back on her life five years ago, she sees that she was eating herself to death.
A lifetime of poor eating habits, a recent divorce and low self-esteem sent the scale soaring to 275 pounds. She struggled to walk to the mailbox.
“I was trapped in an unhealthy relationship. I was an emotional wreck, and I was surviving only with the help of antidepressants,” she wrote on her blog www.supergumptiongirl.blogspot.com.
“To say that my obesity affected my daily decisions, my relationships and what I believed I could attain in my life would be a great understatement. I settled for less than I wanted or deserved a lot.
“Looking back, there was always a part deep inside of me that wanted to learn how to be strong, learn about weightlifting and learn about health, but I was told, ‘Fat girls don’t go to the gym’ and I believed it, along with all the other lies I told myself that explained my inability to become healthy.”
Mudrow said that, once she hit rock bottom, she joined Weight Watchers and started documenting everything she ate. But she was disappointed in just a 4-pound loss in six weeks.
She believes her body had simply stopped responding to diets. She considered a surgical lap band, but decided instead to spend the money on a personal trainer at a gym in Oregon, where she was living at the time.
“I had one ounce of gumption left and I decided to invest it in myself,” she said.
Her personal trainer motivated her to work out daily. Instead of calling her “fat” or “obese,” he called her a “deconditioned athlete.”
Although Mudrow didn’t have the balance or stamina for a treadmill, she started out on a stationary bike and found she had a natural ability for weightlifting. Getting stronger helped her lose weight and get rid of her emotional problems.
“I never believed I could accomplish things. I had to overcome that. I learned it’s OK to take time for myself. Being strong physically made me stronger in other areas of my life,” she said.
As Mudrow learned more about nutrition, she discovered that food is fuel for the body. She enjoys nutritious food like steamed zucchini with pasta sauce and smoothies, and even eats treats in moderation.
“You don’t have to give anything up. It’s moderation. I like the challenge of going to a restaurant and finding something healthy. You can find healthy choices to fuel your body anywhere,” she said.
Looking at and listening to inspiring things has also helped Mudrow stick with exercise and good nutrition. She finds songs that inspire her. She has a vision board in her bedroom with inspirational quotes.
At one time, she filled out an application to be a Weight Watchers leader and taped it to her board. Later a friend made her a shirt that said “personal trainer.”
“I was acting as if I was that person, and the mind finds a way. I imagined myself a fit female, an athletic mom. Eventually, that came to fruition,” she said.
She now considers herself a butterfly.
“In moments when I get overwhelmed, I tell myself that just like a caterpillar morphs into a butterfly and can no longer walk on the ground, I can’t walk through my life anymore, either. I have to fly,” she wrote on her blog.
As a caterpillar, Mudrow couldn’t walk around the block. Now as a butterfly, she runs half marathons and is a personal trainer at Gold’s Gym in Ogden.
“Four years ago, I just wanted to be skinny. I didn’t realize how good it feels to be strong,” she said, “I need to pay it forward. It’s like someone has freed me from a cage and I need to pass that on.”
AT A GLANCE
Name: Michele Mudrow, 38, Marriott-Slaterville
Occupation: Personal Trainer at Gold’s Gym in Ogden
Lost: 115 pounds
Kept it off: 2 years
How she did it: Exercise, good nutrition and overcoming mental challenges.
• Use food to nourish your body and enjoy treats in moderation.
• Lift heavy weights. Don’t worry about bulking up; women don’t have the DNA for that.
• Do one thing out of your comfort zone. “When you are out of your comfort zone, that’s where the miracle comes,” Mudrow said. For example, she does not like running, but does it because she likes the results she gets from it.
• Inspire yourself with music, quotes and visuals.