Thursday, April 11, 2013

Fabulously Fit: Mother of Five Inspires!

Natalie and her kids!
A few years back, when Obama was running for his first term, I reconnected with a high school friend, Natalie, through some really great Facebook discussions about the president-to-be. Through several more Facebook messages and posts, we discovered we were both moms and somehow had a lot more in common than not! Through the last few years, this mother of five, who, like me, had a skinnier twin---although her twin is identical, inspired me with her weight loss and fitness journey. I tell people about her all the time. She inspires me that much. Natalie is an Army wife who's husband is often out on deployment. She's a twin herself, and a mother of not one, but two sets of twins and a singleton. Despite all this, she makes fitness a priority. I had the privilege of asking Natalie a few questions about her fitness journey. Read on and be inspired!

How did you come to realize you wanted to change your lifestyle?

Twins! (Natalie is on the right.)
I'm a twin and my twin sister doesn't have any children. I used to look at her unchanged body and have "weight loss wishes". I yo-yoed for years because while I loved the feeling of working out, I didn't care for the discipline of fueling my body right. I ran marathons, attended workout classes and even became a group fitness instructor. My friend Ryndee led a Turbokick class that I loved and she and another instructor friend, Alex, would put me on the mic to lead sections of the workout. I loved it! I loved to motivate and as an instructor you want to go all out and encourage the class to do the same. I still wasn't my sisters size but I was content until after a class one day. A woman that, at the time, I thought was much larger than me, thanked me. She thanked me for my excitement and for "representing for the BIG girls."  I was floored. I was thankful that she appreciated me but I didn't realize that she identified with me for my size. I was large. It happened slowly over time so I didn't notice. That was my "Aha!" moment of "something's got to give!" How do I live and breathe the gym and still not have results that reflect the scale or my pant size? Am I working out just to eat poorly? I needed a change and like the wait gain, I created that change slowly over time.
What is your motivation? 

No more cropped head shots!
 My motivation came from every picture I untagged online and from my friends cropping photos automatically because they knew I was unhappy with my size. They were sweet and loved me enough to take the same shot from different angles a number of times. From having to sit out in the hot sun because I wasn't going to dare get into a bathing suit during the summer. I saw how much my kids loved working out because I loved working out and wanted them to love eating clean because I love eating clean and now they do. I'm their parent, their first teacher and still had a lot to learn. I am strong in my faith and realized that that this wasn't entirely a vanity concern, or a health concern. Spiritually, I was not honoring God with my body. How was I going to motivate more than just one person in a class if I wasn't giving my all to acquire results that inspire?  All of these things continue to motivate me to keep going. 

How do you include your kids in your fitness journey?

No excuses!
I workout from home for the most part. My kids workout with me. I use them for added weight when I plank and encourage them to keep up with me as I punch, kick, jump and did drills in the living room. Sometimes I wait until they are occupied to workout. If they don't see me exercise, they ask if I did. Talk about accountability! I turn on the music and dance with them to keep them active on rainy days (it also tires them out for a nap). When weather allows, we head to the local track or hiking trail. My kids are totally awesome. I see a lot of my workout moves become their dance moves. They don't know the difference because all they know is that working out and dancing are both fun.

What are you three all time favorite exercise moves?

Natalie (at right) in her element.
I'm heavy bottomed so I enjoy the rewards of mixed martial arts. Plus, it makes me feel like a really cool ninja. Round house kicks really define the and trim down the legs and back kicks lift the bottom. I absolutely love lunges too!  I'm a sick person---any kind of lunge is welcome. I have powerful legs and love to push them. When weight training, I really enjoy the clean and press. I see the results quickly and every time I press and I smile. I feel empowered doing that move.

Have you gained a sense of identity through your fitness journey, apart from being a mom of five? 

I have gained my own sense of identity in every way possible. I'm not the "heavy twin," the "twin with twins," the "one with the kids," or the mom that puts all of her efforts into the health and appearance of her children while neglecting herself. I used to do that---have my kids looking great while I was in oversized clothes trying not to be noticed. Now my kids' kids' will look at photos and see that I was a tall and hippy woman that wore her frame with pride. I won't be a floating cropped head in photos anymore. I now have a successful business from home doing what I love, inspiring and motivating others. Keeping others accountable is what keeps me accountable. I have the pleasure of witnessing their fitness. I have made so many sweet friends while on this fitness journey. My heart is full. My children now have a healthy mom that is home when they are and still manages to add to the family's income. I strive to remain to be that woman people want to identify with. The one that took back her life and started living for the glory of the Lord. 

If you are interested in seeing Natalie in action as a fitness coach, please visit

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