Today’s post is the awesome story of how Jane Graham rediscovered her passion for healthy living and successfully transformed herself into “The Grahaminator”.
Jane Graham is a teacher in the Upper School English Department at Woodward Academy (College Park, GA.) Over the past 3 years, Jane has experienced amazing changes in her life by reclaiming her passion for exercise and healthy eating. Read her story below and post your thoughts to comments.
In mid-October, 2010, I sat at my desk and stared at the e-mail that all Woodward Academy employees received which invited us to join boot camp. The first session had actually begun on October 1st, and even though I was tempted to join then, I had talked myself out of the opportunity by telling myself that I was too old and too out of shape to start an exercise program ever again. I allowed myself to question this opportunity with a great deal of self-doubt and negativity. Isn’t everyone else in better shape than I am? How will I ever keep up? Why would I want to make myself vulnerable in front of my colleagues? How could I ever come even close to being a successful participant? I was my own worst enemy. However, I could not get this second invitation out of my thoughts and somehow felt that it was some sort of sign for me at least to try. I stared at my computer screen for what seemed hours. After much trepidation, I sent a reply to Sam stating that I would like to join boot camp beginning on November 1st, 2010. Sam sent an immediate response welcoming me to the program. I showed up at 5:30 a.m. on November 1st, and my life changed.
When I began boot camp, I could not do a push-up or sit-up or complete most of the exercises. I even fell when we did the butterfly stretch at the end of the first session. By taking that initial step of just going, however, I had decided that I was not going to quit and that showing up and doing horribly was better than not showing up at all. Sam knew just how far to push so that we did not injure ourselves or become discouraged. After a couple of weeks, I was hooked. I knew that at the very least that I had to try to get into shape and that becoming fit would take time and effort. My family has a history of heart and health issues; I was falling into the genetic trap that I assumed was my destiny. I eventually adopted the attitude that it had taken me a long time to get so out of shape, so it was going to take a while to start seeing the results of my endeavors. Surprisingly, however, I did not find it difficult to work out because I enjoyed feeling such a strong sense of accomplishment. I have to admit that I was SO sore for weeks, but I enjoyed the bragging rights that came with the soreness. What I knew for sure was that I was addicted to boot camp!
Top: Jane in 2009 (right)
Bottom: Jane in 2013 (middle)
By January of 2011, people began making comments about the changes in my body. People started asking me what I was doing since I appeared to look lighter and fitter. Sam continued to give us positive reinforcement as we continued to get stronger. The die-hard boot campers congealed as a group and as friends. By the spring of 2011, I had to start buying new clothes; my daughter told me that my clothes were baggy enough to be pajamas. By my birthday in August of 2011, I weighed 40 pounds less than I did on my birthday in 2010, and I weighed 13 pounds less by my birthday in 2012. Between feeling better physically and finding camaraderie among the other boot campers, boot camp became an important part, in fact an integral part, to my newly found desire for self-improvement.
I also changed my eating habits with the implementation of the exercise. Sam made certain suggestions about the food that we put into our bodies, and I gleaned what to fit into my routine. I have not gone as strict as to remove all grains, but I try to limit grains and to eat only whole wheat when I do so. I have been eating more fruit and vegetables and limit sweets. I am much more aware of what I eat each day. I have started thinking of what types of food, like more protein, I need to eat in order to provide fuel to burn when I exercise.
I am also extremely excited about getting in running shape again. I have started running by tackling local 5k races. My time has improved over the past year. I ran the 2012 Tri-Cities Run in College Park with a time of around 36 minutes. When I ran the race in 2013, my time had improved to around 32:30; I also won my age group! In fact, I have claimed the prize in my age group (55-59) four times since December, 2012. My immediate goals are to try to run a 5k in under 30 minutes and train to run a 10k with a decent time. My daughter and I have started signing up for races together. She is so proud of my accomplishments! Our ultimate goal would be for the two of us to train for and to complete a half marathon. My husband is also very supportive and proud of what I have done; he has enjoyed our change in diet and has also begun a walking regimen. Boot camp has directly affected me while indirectly impacting my family.
Right: Jane and daughter, Ashley, after crushing the Atlanta Hot Chocolate race in January 2013
I feel like a different person. I am proud of my accomplishments and my dedication. I have more energy and more confidence. I am now able to do sit-ups, real push-ups, the dreaded burpee, and to complete successfully the work-outs that Sam provides. I now exercise at least five days a week and have a better level of fitness than I ever thought I could achieve. Overall, I feel that I have succeeded in my now on-going quest for self-improvement. I am extremely grateful. So now I have only one question for myself- what was I thinking when I was so afraid to join boot camp? Becoming a part of this program has been one of the best decisions that I have ever made for myself.
Jane – You inspire high school students everyday in your English classes and your dedication to improving your health, renewing your passion for running, and investing in your family serves as inspiration for us all! Thanks for sharing your story and keep up the great work!