In a little town in Pennsylvania, on Wednesday, October 13th, 1954, Robert Hollenbach drove his wife, Marian, through the remnants of Hurricane Hazel to get to the hospital. After a grueling trip with winds howling and trees down, they made it to Coaldale Hospital where a chubby, red-headed baby girl with blue eyes was born.
The baby girl’s two older brothers welcomed the little baby home and she was called, “Sissy.” At the time of her birth, no one knew that Sissy would have a continual battle with obesity. They also didn’t know that she would become a recruit in a series of boot camps. You see, I am that chubby baby girl who will turn 55 on October 13th.
As I was thinking about my upcoming birthday, I reflected where I was last year at this time and how my life has changed. A year ago, I was living a very sedentary and unhealthy life. Oh, I walked every now and then with my boss, but I just could not seem to get my act together. I weighed in at a hefty 298 pounds, wore a tight size 26/28 and I was tired. My knees ached and I could never think of getting down on the floor or kneeling down to pull weeds.
This Tuesdays, I plan to celebrate much more than my 55 years that God has given me. I plan to celebrate the things He has allowed me to achieve and the people helping me along the way.
A year ago, if someone would have told me that in a year, I would be a recruit in a physically challenging and grueling Boot Camp, I would have thought they were nuts! If they would have told me that I would be exercising five to six days a week or that I would be running, jumping, squatting, doing push-ups and more, I would have checked to see what planet they came from! If they had told me I would be writing a weekly series about my exercise routine and on top of it all, admit in the paper how much I weighed and then appearing on the Today Show and admitting I was 54 and obese, I would have laughed hysterically. Life has certainly changed in one year and what a ride it has been!
Since my birthday last year, I have lost 23 pounds and more that 50 inches all over my body. Although it doesn’t seem like much, it was actually lost since I started Boot Camp in January so it has been over a period of 10 months. I have gone from a tight size 26/28 to a size 22 and am now fitting into some size 20’s. Now for many people, a size 20 is still a very large size! Yes, it is and 275 pounds is a lot of weight, but then I think of where I was and wonder where I would be if I had not taken that first step to get up off the couch? I now have a defined neck and chin instead of the “unineck” I once possessed. My body shape has changed dramatically.
Since my birthday last year, I am able to move. I can now get down on the floor with my grandson, Alex, without having to think about how I am going to get up. I can run around the yard and play ball and chase him on his toy tractor without gasping for air. I can do push-ups, jump rope, sit-ups and frog jumps. My balance has improved tremendously. I feel so different from last year. My physical ability has definitely increased.
Since my birthday last year, I am truly humbled by the number of people who care about me. I started out at Boot Camp at the YMCA where I met Rico, Oshun, Mikey, Nestor, Kevin, Charlotte and others, who I learned, truly care about me. Even though I am currently participating in the Warriors of Wine Boot Camp as I could not work the YMCA Boot Camp into my schedule, the personnel from the Homestead YMCA still stay in touch to see how I am doing. They all care about me which is so hard for me to understand. I have yet to figure out why they care about me!
Since my birthday last year, I have met so many recruits who have been so supportive of my participation in Boot Camp. Most of these recruits are the age of my own children, but they made me feel so special. There is the editor of this paper who privately encourages me and says I inspired him to start training again. There are also the people who read this paper, e-mail or stop me on the street to say how proud they are of me. They are proud of me? They are inspired by me? Why?
As I approach my 55th birthday, I realize now that I have already received the best present I could ever receive. I have been given the gift of being blessed by a support team of trainers, recruits, friends and family. They are the ones who display confidence and pride in me while I feel very unworthy.
I am a recruit in Boot Camp and I am thanking all for the beautiful gifts you have given. The gifts of love, support and friendship for which I will ever be grateful.