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The Ember has Become a Fire

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The Ember has Become a Fire

The Ember has Become a Fire

 By Connie Roetzer, Farrell’s $10,00 National Challenge Finalist

I began my journey with Farrell’s on January 5, 2019. I was your typical middle-aged woman - in my 50’s, married, grown children that live outside the home, and aging parents that have needed my emotional support. I had recently gone through a lot of really big changes in my life and, looking back, I didn’t end up handling them too well. On top of everything else, I’d also grown increasingly overweight (and was so tired of being so).

On the outside, I was positive, well-adjusted, happy, and making some pretty funny excuses for being “big-boned”. On the inside, I was hurting, angry, kicking myself for my poor choices, and an emotional wreck. I knew I had to do something to change the path I was on.

As I looked at Farrell’s schedule, I remember thinking that they have plenty of class times to choose from and that I would make it a goal to attend three times a week, maybe four. The first Saturday of the 10-Week Challenge opened my eyes and sparked an ember. After the first week, I was hooked - I didn’t want to miss any of it. At the end of the 10 weeks, not only had I only missed two classes (due to a pre-planned family ski trip), but I was also in the top five! I felt amazing!

I knew my health had improved and I had grown personally, but I hadn’t won. My competitive spirit had kicked in hard, and I had come so close to winning. I knew I could do better. I knew I had to keep going so I would continue to see the positive changes in both my body and my mind. The ember definitely became a flame, I joined the 10K club and set some more goals.

The Farrell’s family is fantastic. I have never been in a club, class, or gym that is so supportive, encouraging, and motivating. The instructors and coach during my 10-Week Challenge were so amazing that I was thrilled to have a chance to pay it forward and become a coach for future 10-weekers like myself. It’s not just the people who work and volunteer at Farrell’s that make it what it is, it is the members as well. There are members that will never know how their attitude, perseverance, humor, or kind words pushed and energized me when I was struggling. Someone was there to hand me a med ball, a grey band, or tell me to push a little harder so that even on those off days, I had the support to reach my Level 10.

As I continued to track my nutrition, match my carbs to my proteins, eat the proper amount of food, and participate in class six days a week, (you know, work the Farrell’s program) I saw more positive changes in my body that I never dreamed would occur. I owned “Abs of Steel” back in the day, but I never had a stomach like I do now.

Ever since I was a teenager, I don’t remember a time where I didn’t think I needed to lose weight. At times it was only 10-15 pounds. As I grew older it became 20-30 and then at my breaking point, 50+pounds. I always had excuses like stress, work, kids, age, time of life, or the sky was cloudy. Now, I don’t think about excess pounds but am aware of fat loss and muscle gain and focus on how I feel. For the first time, I don’t think about how many pounds I have to lose, but what is the next challenge I want to accomplish.

My husband and I signed up for a 10K race to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary – not because it was something I thought I needed to do to lose weight, but because it was something that I wanted to do because it would be a fun and healthy challenge!

During the last three months of my Farrell’s $10,000 National Challenge, another huge change happened in my life – the Farrell’s I was attending changed owners. Silly sounding, maybe, but those owners are amazing people and I love them and the atmosphere they had created within Farrell’s in Hudson. My self-doubt crept in for a bit, “It won’t be the same”, “It won’t be as good”, “I won’t like it as well, and eating a cheesecake would make it better, and I might as well just quit!” Good Lord, I needed to get a grip and stop the spiral down. I had equated the original owners with the passion I had for the Farrell’s program and the changes I was making in myself. What can I say... change is hard. I was thrown out of my comfort zone but came to realize how much stronger I am, not only physically, but emotionally. They didn’t do the work, they supported me as I did the work. Lesson learned.

The new owner is amazing and the past owners are still members. Things are not the same, but that’s okay because shaking up my routine a bit is good. Change is just that, change. I don’t have to fall back into my old bad habits just because the environment and people are different. Farrell’s is still Farrell’s and the flame is mine to fan. Another lesson learned.

The last week of our $10,000 National Challenge, Covid-19 hit the United States and Farrell's was forced to shut down. That meant no test-out day, no party, no closure with my second family, no celebration spring break trip, AND my 10K running race was canceled. I was devastated and for the last week of my Challenge, it was difficult to fight not falling into my bad habits of medicating with food. My choices ended up not being perfect, but I stayed within my calories (which would have never happened a year ago) and I adjusted my outlook so that I kept on exercising.

Farrell’s responded to the pandemic by providing bands for us to buy or rent and online workouts for us to do at home. Now that’s a company that cares and is committed to the success of its members. Just another reason I love Farrell’s.

I am still middle-aged, now 52, and I still have stressors in my life, but those things no longer have the control over my life that they once had and they are no longer excuses for me to make bad choices. I also no longer describe myself as typical. I am committed to the Farrell's program and even with the challenges going on in the world, I have developed the discipline to keep going for me.

I not only set goals with this $10,000 National Challenge, I exceeded them. In fact, I crushed them! I ended this contest year with 90% attendance, 58.5 pounds lost, and decreased my body fat by 22.3%. I witness indomitable spirit, perseverance, courage, integrity, and dedication every day from the members who attend Farrell’s, and now I strive to cultivate those same traits in myself.

Whenever someone asks me about my journey or comments on how I now look, I tell them about the place, program, and people that made it possible. The Farrell’s program works, and it makes being a healthy and happy person a practical and attainable goal for your everyday, average, middle-aged woman (along with the variety of other folks that have worked the program as well!). Going forward, I know that the ember has become a fire and I have already won.


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