To a Better You in 2014!

fat me
My “before” picture.
I knew I had to take control of my weight.

I’m a cliche.  It’s true.  In January 2013 I embarked on a fitness journey that to date has resulted in a loss of just over 40 pounds.  I was inspired by a picture taken on Christmas Eve with my family.  I was disgusted by the self I saw in that photo and I knew it was finally time to take action.

I’d lost 35 pounds (pre-children) doing Weight Watchers, but this time I decided to take a different approach to eating. I started using My Fitness Pal, both on my desktop and my phone.  I log all the food I put into my mouth.  But My Fitness Pal makes it super easy, and after doing it for a year, it’s pretty much second nature.  My diary is completely open on the site, and I’m happy to cheer anyone on who is just getting started (my username is c_faulkenburg).

The biggest change I made was to get up and get moving.  There are lots of ways to be more active, but I have three small children and I’m a stay at home mom.  I wanted to join a gym not only to get in shape, but also to get a small bit of Catherine-time during the day.  In order for a mom to attend a gym, it’s a necessity for the facility to provide childcare.  There are several gyms in Columbia that provide this option including Gold’s Gym and Pivotal Fitness.  After weighing several options with my family, we decided to join the Columbia YMCA (The Northwest Branch).  As a family member of the Columbia YMCA, I can take all of the classes I want.  I can utilize the gym, the swimming pool, and the wellness center (with brand new machines!), and in the summertime I can take my kids to a fenced in splash pad after working out.   There’s also the added bonus of my children getting reduced rates to play recreational sports.  My oldest played t-ball last summer and really enjoyed it.  It’s part of the South Carolina United soccer league, which is huge.

I intended to hit the wellness center a couple of times a week to work out on the elliptical machine and treadmill.  And I had also intended to try a couple of classes.  The first one I tried was Zumba.  It wasn’t easy.  I felt nervous and intimidated, but then something clicked.  I started enjoying the classes, and really looked forward to attending.   For the uninitiated, Zumba is a cardio workout that integrates Latin music and dance moves into a lively, upbeat class.  Classes are wildly varied depending on the instructor; I’ve Zumbaed to music from the Madagascar movie soundtrack, to Christmas carols, to the latest music from Bruno Mars and Pitbull.   The Columbia NW YMCA offers Zumba classes every day during the week except for Sundays.  The classes are taught by a handful of different instructors and they all have different styles and strengths they bring to their classes.  Zumba is fun, and time goes by quickly (which is one reason I’d always put off exercising…time seems to crawl by for me when I’m on the elliptical or treadmill.)  Over time, I got to know my instructors and learned their choreography.

If you’re reading this and thinking, I could never do Zumba, please give it a try.  But you can’t just try it once.  I almost walked out of my first class and never came back.  I’m not particularly coordinated.  I was never a dancer, and I probably look absolutely ridiculous to someone watching me.  But it’s fun, and you get a great calorie burn.  Not to mention the class is so fast paced, you won’t be able to think about the laundry, or the floor that needs to be mopped, or whether or not the kids are fighting.

Try going to at least 2 or 3 classes taught by the same instructor.  If going to a gym isn’t your thing, there are a zillion Zumba videos uploaded to YouTube.  I watched a lot of these videos when I first started going; to help me learn some of the techniques used in class.

side by side
One year later.
Forty pounds lighter.
Can you tell a difference?

So here I am, one year later, 40 pounds lighter, and a good bit more knowledgeable about myself and my limits.  So for 2014, I’ve decided to push those limits.  I intend to try some different classes and push myself in different ways.  I still have weight I’d like to lose, but I want to make my body strong.  I want to be able to run around with my boys without feeling like I have to sit down to rest.  Exercise also helps me to relieve my stress and anxieties (but that’s information for another post).

If you’re like me, and you started your journey this January towards a better you, and you gather up the courage to try out a Zumba class (or Body Pump, or Step, or maybe you’re stepping onto the treadmill for the very first time), remember that everyone starts somewhere, and that soon enough you’ll get your rhythm, and you’ll be well on your way to being the best you that you can be.

How do you fit exercise into your busy lifestyle as a mother?



  1. You look great and feel even better! Your journey is inspiring 🙂 Good for you for taking the initiative and becoming a healthier woman!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here