Friday, January 6, 2012

A Mother of Inspiration

A year and a half ago, Lisa Erickson (a high school classmate of mine) did not consider herself a hot (sweaty) mama. She was tired and she was frustrated. At 220 pounds, Lisa was fatigued just walking up a flight of stairs. She says she spent so much time focusing on her failing marriage and raising her children that she didn't have time to take care of herself. 

That's when Lisa joined a gym with a childcare center, which gave her two hours a day for to focus on her health. Lisa made a resolution, a life resolution, to get and stay fit. That decision has completely changed her body, and her life. In less than two years she's lost 85 lbs. and found happiness and self-confidence she never anticipated.

The following is a recent conversation I had with Lisa. She's honest and real and hard not to like... Read on and be inspired!  

Laurie:  Secret number one in the book Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom (Andrews McMeel, 2011) is “You Have to Train Your Brain Before You Can Train Your Body.” In what ways did you prepare yourself mentally for the road in front of you before getting started living a fit lifestyle? Was there one thing that really helped you make the decision to get fit? 

Lisa:  I recently separated from my husband and put so much energy in trying to repair our marriage and care for our 3 children that I completely lost myself. I was tired of being overweight and unfit so I made the decision to change. I started small and focused on each day.

Laurie:  Once you got going, what did you do to keep Mother Guilt away when you were taking time to care for yourself?

Lisa:  I joined the gym for the childcare and as a result got in the best shape of my life. I have sole physical custody of my three kids and no time to myself. Those two hours of childcare are the only break I get. If they complain about going (they rarely do) I explain that they need a healthy mom to take care of them. These two hours are about mom and the rest of the day is about them. 

Laurie:  Let’s talk about excuses. We’ve all used them, right? What are your biggest triggers to forgo fitness? How do you keep yourself in check so that you’re only listening to valid reasons and not lame excuses when you take a day off or back off a bit?

Lisa:  My biggest obstacle right now is not taking a break. I have a hard time missing a workout. I do "active recovery" days where I only do yoga or something light, but I rarely miss a day at the gym.

Laurie:  In our book we remind readers to “Be As Good To Your Body As You Are To Your Children.” What techniques do you use to protect your overall well-being, not just your fitness pursuits? Do you think these parts of your life training are as important as the sweaty ones?

Lisa:  I try to keep my life in balance. I realize that sounds contradictory by going to the gym every day, but I do what I feel is best for my mental and physical well-being as well as my children’s. I try to eat clean, train well and rest when needed.

Laurie:  If I remember correctly, you were pretty social in high school. How have your relationships with others helped and hindered your lifestyle changes? Is there any one relationship that stands out as particularly toxic or particularly supportive?

Lisa:  The group fitness instructors at my gym have been a huge inspiration to me. They are the ones I credit with my love for fitness—it’s their classes that got me going to the gym everyday. I have developed strong friendships with several of them who are not just instructors but good friends. They continue to motivate me and are strong supporters to both me and to my kids. As far as toxic people, I've changed how I react to others and those I choose to be close to. My home situation is unique in the fact I'm raising my children alone, which isolated me from a lot of my former friends. Getting a divorce forces people to look at their own marriages and it shuts off social circles as a result. I've learned to value true friendships and people for who they are and leave the rest behind. I don't worry about what others think of me. I am doing exactly what I need to be doing for myself and for my kids and I don't feel the need to explain myself or worry about how others perceive me. This realization has been equally instrumental as fitness and nutrition in my healthy lifestyle. 
Laurie:  The last secret of our book is “Act Like Others Are Watching Because They Are.” How do you think your transformation has impacted other people in your life, particularly your children?

Lisa:  I love seeing people working hard to achieve something. When I see someone struggling while exercising it humbles me to see how far I've come. That 220lb lady is gone for good. I have all the tools I need to continue my success with my fitness goals. As a result my children understand the importance of caring for their bodies. Moderation, healthy food choices and moving daily are things we emphasize in our household.

Laurie:  What changes did you experience mentally as you gained strength and improved your overall fitness? Are you happier now? If so, why?

Lisa:  The feeling of accomplishment makes you a stronger person. My transformation has not only changed my body but my entire life. I'm the happiest I've ever been and the best shape of my life. There are days when I nit pick at little things and then I stop and look at the big picture and everything I've accomplished in the past couple years. It puts it all in perspective. I’m a better friend, mom and person as a result. I feel like there is nothing I can't do.

Laurie:  Anything else you want to add that might be inspirational to another mom?

Lisa:  Start small and focus on each day. Don't look at how far you have to go, look at how much you have done. The journey is continuous so enjoy each day!