A couple weeks in to the year, the gym advertised its yearly Fitness Challenge. It would take place over the next two months, and the top male and female contestants from 11 gyms would each win $1000. I remember thinking to myself, "I could totally win that." I signed myself up, bought 8 personal training sessions, and on January 18th, I was off!
The next two months are somewhat of a blur. I began a meal plan suggested by the gym and modified by my doctor. I am allowed 1200 calories over the course of the day, spread out over 5-6 small meals. On initially hearing the parameters of this plan, I am pretty sure that my jaw dropped. I had never stuck with any diet I'd tried, all of which were much less restrictive. I steeled my resolve and decided to perfectly follow it. This plan also allows me one unrestricted day a week, which I think is part of me being successful with it. I also write down everything that goes in my mouth. It helps keep me on the straight and narrow.
Then came my workout regimen. I had already established a strict workout schedule six days a week, no questions or excuses. Because I was at the gym nearly every day, the staff started to take notice. The other trainers, not just my own, began encouraging me and checking up on me.
I am not kidding when I say that the owner of the gym, Jose, actually walked up to me one day after I had been working out and was completely sweaty and gross and gave me a big hug. He said, "I notice what you are doing, and think you are the hardest-working person in my gym. I want to give you a big hug every month to recognize your hard work."
Things got pretty competitive the last three weeks of the challenge. I had started taunting one of the other trainers, telling him that his client (who was my closest competition) had next to no chance of beating me. In reality, I wasn't so certain. I panicked several times over the course of those last couple weeks, sure that all my hard work wouldn't be enough. Sure, I knew that weight loss in itself was a great reward, but I had told myself and everyone else who would listen that I was going to win.
The final weekend was not pretty. I told everyone that I felt like a drunk zombie. I had started 2-a-days two weeks before, and had cut my calories down to heaven knows how little. It's a good thing my family and friends love me, I can't even begin to imagine what they thought of me. I think that the only way I was able to survive was through prayers and the intense understanding of my loved ones.
March 15th was the day of my final weigh in, and people from the gym gathered around, eager to see what my final number would be. I thought I might hit 48 pounds, but when it came up fifty, I pretty much freaked out and shouted for joy.
I found out the results of the challenge on March 18th. Everyone who participated in the challenge gathered at the gym to hear the results for the contest both at the gym and between the other gyms. I was confident that I placed in the top two at my gym, and hoped that I would place with the other gyms. They announced the guys top three first, and I was a nervous wreck. Then they announced third place for the girls, and it wasn't me. Jose took a dramatic pause and announced second place, which ended up being the girl who was my closest competitor. I was elated! Jose then said, "And, there's no first place for the women this year." I shouted, "Come on!" and jumped up and down. He announced me as the winner and I was so happy! People came up and clapped me on the back and hugged me. It was amazing.
Then came the conference call with all the other gyms to get the results of the inter-gym competition. They announced all the teams who lost the most weight, which took forever! I paced and bounced, waiting for the results. Finally, the moment of truth. They announced the women, and announced the winner first. I'm pretty sure that all I heard was Sarah.... and then the gym went completely wild. I jumped up and down (my pants nearly fell off, they were too loose!), people yelled and clapped and hugged. I was completely beside myself. I just kept saying, "I won! I can't believe I won!"