She Believed She Could and She Did

Micki Pauley

Personal Training, Nutrition, Health

Change is difficult. We become so wrapped up in being comfortable that we forget that change is what creates the next level in our lives. On September 26, 2017, I received an email from an individual who was a bit hesitant to make the changes needed to create her next level, but she made those changes and one year later she is now an important member of my Warrior Body program and has become someone who has set an example for many. I want to tell her story because I hope that it helps others see that they are not alone in their struggles and that everyone can find a path to success.

 

Cassandra Hearns is a single mother to an active 14-year-old. Something many don’t know about her (so I hope she doesn’t mind me bragging on her for a moment) is that she is a former state champion in track and field and a former collegiate track and field athlete. Cassandra started her first training program with me understanding the dedication and hard work it was going to take to reach her goals.

 

 

About a month into the program I received an email from Cassandra. It was an email that made me say out loud, “this girl gets it!” Cassandra had been consistent, making healthy changes, and more importantly, learning about the bigger effect this lifestyle would not only have on herself but also those closest to her.

 

In her email, she stated that when she began the challenge she thought the biggest obstacles she would face would be physical, but she realized early on that the physical aspect was just one part of what would be a huge puzzle.

 

She went on to explain that she failed to consider not everyone would be supportive of her decision to live a healthier lifestyle and that the journey could get lonely. Her email went on to talk about her change in mindset because being strong mentally far outweighs being strong physically.

 

Fast forward to October 15, 2018–a post written by Cassandra on Facebook brought chills to many. Why? Because so many of us can relate to the struggles of change, the challenges of being a parent, and learning to balance both your life and your families.

 

Many women relate to what it takes to be a single parent and when we see one person showing that while yes, the struggles are real–they can be overcome. Based on Cassandra's Facebook post, I decided to dig a little deeper because her story resonates with so many people that I see in my classes and in classes everywhere, no doubt.

 

Cassandra during a Warrior Body workout.

 

The Progress of an Athlete

I have the pleasure of seeing Cassandra three days a week and I have been able to witness her growth throughout her training but I wanted to ask her directly to talk more about her mindset and experiences in the interview below.

 

1. Describe where you were in life before joining my Warrior Body classes both mentally and emotionally

Before joining your program I was more of an introvert by nature who focused on work, raising my daughter (who had more of a social life than I did) and was also involved in multiple sports activities for her. Being a single parent I put my all into ensuring she made it to each and every game, match or practice.

 

It was important that she got to do activities with her friends and that I was there to help out with every team function as needed. The day came when I got the phone call that she was at volleyball practice and had hurt her knee. A trip to the ER, crutches, lots of ice, and an MRI revealed that she would need surgery to repair the cartilage that was damaged when she dislocated her knee.

 

 

I was at a total loss as to what I was going to do because my world as I had known it had come to a screeching halt and I had no other plans on the horizon to occupy my time. For several weeks I was truly at a loss in regard to what I should do with the amount of free time I now had on my hands for the first time in eight years. My identity as I knew it was no more and that bothered me.

 

The thought of possibly doing something for myself made me feel selfish and also like a bad parent. Exercise was the first thing that came to my mind as I was trying to figure out ways to "do my own thing." I wanted to learn healthier life habits, work on my body, have a stress outlet, and possibly make some friends. All of this sounded good in my head but putting the plan in motion turned out to be a bigger challenge until I contacted you.

 

2. Describe your hesitance of the email you had written to me before joining Warrior Body. How did our interaction through email make you feel?

I hesitated reaching out to you because I had emailed so many people before only to get a one or two-word answer or to get no response at all. I had even called a few places in the local area and I just felt like they blew me off and didn't want to answer any of the questions I wanted to ask.

 

I also hesitated in sending an email because I knew if you responded and it was what I was searching for then it would put me on the clock for following through in wanting to start on this journey to a healthier lifestyle.

 

I asked a lot of questions once I got a response to my initial email and in return, I got the answers I was looking for and was even asked a few questions so that you could learn a little more about me. Our interaction through email made me feel like I wasn't just a person inquiring about a service but that you had a service to offer me and you truly wanted me to be a part of it. You made me feel welcome from the start of what was a long email exchange and I knew I just had to check the place out.

 

3. Describe your first couple interactions in class? Who did you meet? What kept you coming back?

Before coming to Warrior Body I was an extremely shy person. I remember walking into class on a chilly Saturday morning October 7, 2017. You welcomed me with a big smile and I found a place off to the side in hopes that no one would notice my nervousness.

 

As I sat and observed those who were chatting before class I felt like an outsider because everyone seemed to know someone and they were just enjoying each others company. Class began and I immediately thought what the heck have I gotten myself into. You would check in with me throughout the circuits and ask if I was ok.

 

I was dying (or at least I felt like it), but I couldn't be that girl on the first day who throws in the towel and walks out of class. After our workout was over I had a class member come up to me (Mandy) to ask if it was my first day and if I liked the class. We sat and talked for a bit and she encouraged me to keep coming to class and promised that it would get easier.

 

I left the workout that day thinking I was in over my head and that I needed to waive the white flag. Sunday morning, I woke up a little stiff and on Monday I woke up feeling like I had been sacked by Refrigerator Perry. Every inch of my body hurt. I kept thinking if I feel like this on Monday there was no way I could exercise on Tuesday. Thankfully I pressed on and managed to make it to Tuesday's workout.

 

Everyone was so nice and encouraging throughout the duration of class and it helped take my mind off my sore muscles. I remember feeling like Warrior Body was unlike any place I had ever been. The support that I received in just two workouts immediately made me feel like I was truly part of an exercise family that had my back and wanted to see me succeed.

 

I kept coming back because of how each and every workout made me feel—like I could do anything if only I would just give it a try. No two workouts are the same and I was challenged with each class that I attended. I loved the energy I was experiencing as a result of Warrior Body and overall it gave me a sense of belonging to something that was beneficial to me.

 

Each workout gave me confidence that I had never seen in myself before. I was proving to myself that it was ok to step out of my norm and comfort zone, to change up my busy schedule to pencil some time in for myself and that it didn't matter what others thought of me it only mattered what I thought of myself.

 

What kept me eager to continue coming to workouts were the Warriors. Hands down they are some of the nicest, caring, supportive, encouraging, and funny people that you will ever meet. Knowing that I was coming into each session to workout with such amazing people made me look forward to coming to class.

 

Cassandra during a Warrior Body workout.

 

4. I received an email from you during the first couple weeks into the program. I will remember it as a breakthrough moment for myself as well because I thought, "yes, this girl gets it!" In it, you mentioned understanding this change is so much more than physical results. Can you discuss this email a bit more and the events leading to writing it?

Prior to coming to your Warrior Body classes, I had created a story as to how things would play out—I would come to class on a regular basis and end up having the body of a supermodel. I'd have toned arms and legs, killer abs and glutes, and look like I just stepped out of a magazine.

 

This body would cause people to take notice and compliment me on how good I looked, and all of this was going to happen sooner rather than later. About two weeks in it hit me that none of that was going to happen because the story I had created was unrealistic, had everything to do with everyone else, and nothing to do with me.

 

I was looking for that pat on the back from those around me but unfortunately, it never happened. Instead, you were giving me so much more than all of those things. My identity had been wrapped up in what others thought of me, my busy schedule as a single parent, and doing what everyone else wanted me to do. For once I was doing something for me, to benefit me, and the hot body was just an extra perk.

 

The is the email that I received, and it still holds true today:

 

When I began the challenge I thought the obstacles I would face would be physical but realized early on that was just one part of what would be a huge puzzle. I failed to take into account that not everyone would be supportive of my decision to live a healthier lifestyle. I failed to take into account that the journey could get lonely because some would not celebrate my victories or even acknowledge them. I failed to take into account that I am a single parent of a teenager who has put so much into her child that she doesn’t know how to balance her child’s activities with activities she wants to do for herself. I failed to take into account that balancing work, a child, life, workouts, doctor appointments, etc. takes a lot of planning. I failed to think of all the things that could hinder me along the way. As each of the obstacles came up in my journey it challenged me mentally. At times it challenged me emotionally, and at times I just truly wanted to kick, scream, and cry out of frustration—but I didn’t. I did my best, faced each challenge as it arose, and held my course. Once I got past those obstacles I was determined to make it all work and to not look back.

 

5. You have now been in the program for slightly over a year and whether you know it or not, you have become a key member and someone who people look to for encouragement. What are the biggest changes you have seen in yourself over the last year?

Changes I've seen in myself over the last year:

 

  • I'm now ok with receiving a little attention.
  • I'm not as shy as I use to be.
  • I'm learning to be more of a people person and less of an introvert.
  • I'm learning to accept compliments when given and know that I am worthy of receiving them.
  • More and more I’m letting go of fear and not giving it place in my life to control me.
  • I’m learning that I love to motivate people, encourage them, and support them in any way that I can. A year ago I would have remained in my little bubble and just cheered them on in my head.
  • I've learned to love the skin that I am in and not allow society to dictate how I should feel about the way that I look or the size that I should be.
  • I feel more confident in myself now than I have ever been.
  • I'm more open to trying new things and activities as opposed to just shutting down the whole idea of something before I even give it any thought or consideration.

 

6. What other ways have you stepped outside your comfort zone?

Socializing outside of class was a struggle for me initially. I was so shy and self-conscious that being in crowds just overwhelmed me. Now when the Warrior Body crew are doing things outside of our workouts I love to hang out and socialize.

 

I recently participated in a softball league that some of my fellow Warriors were a part of that also consisted of their friends, colleagues, and loved ones. I met a lot of new people, made a lot of new friends, and truly enjoyed that experience.

 

I feel now more than ever that I’m more open to trying new things, going new places, or participating in activities that a year ago I would have never dreamed of doing.

 

Truly Embrace Change

Cassandra has truly embraced change and has taken full responsibility for her own health. It is about more than the way she looks. It is about more than just showing up. So many people have a gym membership or even attend some regular group exercises classes but they are not fully engaged.

 

It truly is so much more than just doing the workouts and eating the food. When you really have an understanding and appreciation for what a healthy lifestyle takes, everything will fall into place. You need commitment, community, and consistency.

 

It's also important that your coaches are responsive to you. Find someone who answers your questions, gives you space when you need it, and is also interested in knowing more about you. If I don't know the specifics of your life, I cannot give you the right instruction or support. Any good trainer or coach will know that and will focus on your highly personal situation.

 

Ultimately, you will continue with something if it is making you feel good and you feel that every step you take in a training program and every day you go is moving forward. It's a lifelong commitment to be good to yourself so you can be in a good place for your family, your friends, and your community.

 

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