NJAPP: I would like to thank you, MaryLou Farris for taking the time to inspire and motivate me and my readers this week. MaryLou, "How have you turned an Insecurity into a Strength?"
MaryLou: I started being slightly overweight in first grade and could not fit into my sister’s “slim” Levi jeans anymore. By the time I was in 5th grade, I was the fat girl. When my mom took me school shopping I had to move up from a size 18 to a size 22. My mom was my PE teacher and she always kept me active with running and playing outside. We ate healthy at home but I was the one with the super slow metabolism, so everything I ate turned to fat.
Middle School and High School was when I wanted to be one of the cool kids and have a boyfriend, but that just didn’t happen. I ate extra tater tots, cake, and ice cream to be social and have fun with friends. I wasn’t happy with my size though. I was always wanting to lose weight, but nothing worked, probably because I was wanting the weight to just disappear on it’s own.
Before my junior year in high school, I went to a program at church called “First Place” that actually sparked my interest in losing weight. For the first time in my life, I took responsibility for losing weight. The program taught me how I would need to put some exercise in my life as well as having a healthy lifestyle by eliminating foods that were not good for me. My main focus was to give up fried foods, especially french fries (and I haven’t had ONE since then), and giving up added sugar, like in my favorite donuts, another food I know I STILL don’t need in my life. I also started going to an aerobic class and with the healthy eating and exercising, I was losing - for the first time since first grade!
Seeing that I could lose weight without dieting and look healthier was such a boost to my sagging self-esteem! This positive feeling has given me the strength to not go overboard when eating and to stay true to my healthy eating plan. Three children later, a son then twin sons, and this success has kept me from not overeating. Social media posts from friends, family and strangers about how nice I look certainly boosts my ego and keeps me wanting to stay looking and feeling good.
After the twins were born, I started working with my mom, a former PE teacher and health major in college, to help other people lose weight through balanced eating the “Fab 5” - calories, fat, carbs, fiber, protein. I wanted to help myself and others understand how essential balanced eating is, especially when you can’t exercise (no time with twins). I was able to break through a weight loss boundary to a weight lower than I had ever been and all through just healthy, balanced eating - no exercise.
When my twins turned 3, I was able to start going to a gym with a plan to turn some fat into muscle through the use of weights. This lead to a passion for the fitness industry and I started closely following some inspirational women that inspired me to prepare to take part in a fitness show. I loved the workouts and kept the goal in mind as I went to the gym and prepped and ate my meal plan 7 days a week! The meal plan I was following helped me develop more muscle and increase my self-esteem.
I have always encouraged my boys to exercise with me and try nutritionally balanced foods to strengthen their enjoyment of healthy eating and fitness. I love that they want to go with me to run stadiums, or go to the gym, and love playing basketball and running around at the park or riding scooters or their skate boards - fitness focused!
My desire is to help others achieve a healthy lifestyle, not just DIET, through balanced nutritional eating and exercising. My husband is my biggest cheerleader and encourages our boys to be healthy and fit, “like their mom”!
NJAPP: How do you stay motivated?
MaryLou: I continue to follow inspirational women on social media, many of whom are trainers in the Jacksonville area, and to follow a nutritionally sound meal plan. I see myself just getting better and better and more self confident in years to come and I love to share how a former fat girl can make a choice to become healthy, fit, and STAY that way!!
NJAPP: Thank you again MaryLou, for sharing parts of yourself that once made you insecure and how you used that insecurity to make you strong(er).