Finally Finding the Words — A Fitness Awards Recap

I continue to be at a loss for words to describe the last month. I remain humbled, honored and somewhat surprised by my nomination for a Governor’s Fitness Award. But even more than that, the amount of support, encouragement and positivity I’ve received from my community after the Grand Rapids Press/MLive article? Golly. It’s amazing.

Grand Rapids Press Article

Possibly the worst "before" picture that's ever existed of me. And, yet, I embrace it in all its awkward glory.

I still have a hard time believing that the girl who has almost always struggled with obesity and the shame associated with it is a health and fitness inspiration for anyone. Yet, people have reached out to me to share their stories, just as I’ve shared mine on this blog for the past 2-1/2 years. And it’s changed my life.

So, being invited to stand up on a stage with people like Bill Barkeley, Florine Mark and Cari Draft was the opportunity of a lifetime. There’s just something to be said about being surrounded by people whose interests and goals are in line with your own. I’ve come away from Thursday’s day-long celebration of health and fitness extremely inspired and driven to do even more to spread the joys about a healthy, fit lifestyle — while not ignoring the things that make it difficult.

Conquering Obesity Category

Me with the other honorees of the Conquering Obesity category at the State Capitol, during last Thursday's legislative visits.

Thursday started with a visit to Michigan’s State Capitol building to meet with our senators and, in some cases, representatives.

Capitol Building

So blessed to have Mr. B, my rock, by my side for the whole day.

The visit at the Capitol was an opportunity to be recognized for our efforts. It was a really great way to spend the morning. I don’t remember ever being to the State Capitol building, so it was quite nice to get some time to buzz around and check it out. It really is a gorgeous building. While there, I had the honor of meeting my senator, Mark Jansen. He presented me with a framed tribute, which talked about my efforts to lose more than 100 pounds and share my story with others.

Me and Sen. Jansen

I enjoyed some lovely conversation with Sen. Mark Jansen while visiting the Capitol.

After our visits with our senators, we posed for the obligatory photos — which, of course, I simply cannot wait to see — and then went about our day.

Mr. B and I met one of my friends for lunch and then headed over to the Ann Arbor area for a visit to Trader Joe’s — time to stock up on Cat Cookies for People — and visit Eastern Michigan University. I received my undergrad and graduate degrees from EMU, and I simply love visiting campus. Besides, I needed a new T-shirt — the only ones I own are XXL. Since I’m now a size medium, they looked a little ridiculous.

But I digress.

After our shopping adventures, we headed over to Ford Field in Detroit for the Fitness Awards Gala. Let me just say, I have never seen Mr. B happier than when he was walking around the suite at Ford Field, overlooking the field where his beloved Lions play. He’s a HUGE, long-time Lions fan and has never been to a game. While we didn’t get to watch the Lions play, obviously, at least Mr. B got a very nice glimpse of the field. Perhaps we can find a way to take in a game this year.

Mr. B at Ford Field

It's hard to make out, but that's Ford Field behind Mr. B. If ever a man deserves to see a Lions game, it is Mr. B — my loudest cheerleader.

Before the gala, I had a nice opportunity to visit with some of the other nominees, including some of the women from the Grand Rapids Community Foundation (who, it turned out, won overall winner in the Outstanding Healthy Workplace Award). They’re doing some fantastic activities to encourage physical activity among the company’s employees. I also got a chance to briefly visit with several other people who were nominated in various categories. And I was still having a bit of a hard time believing that I was there among them as a fellow nominee.


Each honoree received a plaque for his/her achievements in leading a healthy, fit lifestyle while encouraging others to do so as well.

The gala itself was inspiring. We heard so many stories of people overcoming huge obstacles to lead a healthy life. But even more than that, we heard about how they are making changes in their communities and improving the health and fitness of others. I sat there in awe of these men and women who were working so hard to improve the lives of their fellow Michiganders.

Please take some time to read about the overall winners in each of the categories — no, I’m not among them. They have such amazing stories to share with you. I promise you’ll come away feeling inspired.

In all, this was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Like running my first marathon, it wasn’t winning that mattered. What mattered was the journey and the experience. Getting to this point in my life has taken blood, sweat and tears. And I have been so blessed to be able to share it with people along the way. What’s more, being nominated for this award has given me the opportunity to introduce more people to my story and to show them that it’s not only about losing 100 pounds. It’s about so much more than that. It’s about taking control of your life — taking that first step, the most important step, in saying:

“I am worthy of a happy, healthy, fulfilled life. I deserve my love and the love of others. And I will honor my body, my mind, my spirit.”

This has given me an opportunity to encourage people not to shame others into losing weight or getting healthy, but to empower them to do so. I am pleased and proud to part of a community that supports the efforts of people to lead healthy, active lifestyles. And I am honored to have been nominated for a Governor’s Fitness Award.

Calf Muscle

I share this photo for a couple of reasons. First, I loved the "Fitness Fancy" attire of the party. Any event where I can wear a dress and my running shoes is a winner in my book. Second, I am so proud of the muscles in my calf in this photo. I have always been ashamed of the size of my calves. They're big and extremely unfeminine. But recently, I've been learning to appreciate them for their strength and for all of the miles they've carried me. You see, fitness isn't just about skinny; it's about strength and respecting your body for all it does for you — by feeding it right and treating it right.



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4 responses to “Finally Finding the Words — A Fitness Awards Recap

  1. Nancy

    I saw you from a distance at Ford Field and I too, was inspired by the many stories, INCLUDING YOURS. Please know that you’re an inspiration!


  2. PretoriaRunningMan

    My comment is on the last picture and all I can say is, WOW!!! You have really awesome calves. They’re obviously all muscle and certainly do look very strong, which is what ultimately matters.


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