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It was 3 years ago that I walked into Undisputed Boxing Gym carrying 236 pounds on my 5’3” frame. I had gained weight during pregnancy, and more afterwards in the blur of sleep deprivation and post partum depression that ensued. I had tried gyms but never lasted long as doing cardio on the machines became boring and I could not maintain motivation. I felt out of control and so much shame over my looks, yet almost 5 years after my daughter was born I was still obese. One day my daughter said something to me that made me determined to change my situation once and for all. I picked her up from school one day and she told me the other kids were teasing her because her mom was “fat”. I was mortified and knew I had to do this for her as much as for myself. Then I heard about Undisputed, and though I had never considered boxing, the idea intrigued me. Right from the beginning, being at UBG felt different. The difference was the sense of community. The staff and the members were welcoming, warm, and encouraging. When I started in Mike’s noon boxing classes, I could barely make it through, and felt self-conscious about my limitations and my body. Mike encouraged me as did the other members and staff, and I began to look forward to coming back.
One of the secrets to my success has been a very gradual approach to changing my body and health. I started out with 2 days a week, and slowly added a third day, then a fourth, fifth…and now at the third year mark I train at UBG 7 days a week. After the first year I began to train with Stephanie and added weight training to my routine. Five months ago I began Jiu Jitsu at UBG which I love and has brought me new physical challenges and accelerated my weight loss. I took the same gradual approach with my eating regime. Instead of dieting I changed my eating habits permanently. I read about calorie counting and food journals, but found they did not work for me as I felt deprived and also found it difficult to be that organized. I came across Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food and that clicked for me. I began to eat only whole fresh foods and avoid anything with more than a couple of ingredients. For breakfast I love bread, so I substituted bread that is made from fully sprouted grains. Whole foods are foods that are complete in and of themselves, for example salmon, an apple, or nuts. In terms of carbs, I substituted whole foods there such as potatoes, lentils, or wild rice. I found my cravings decreased… though I still have a weakness for chocolate!
Another aspect of my being successful in changing my body is my determination. I knew I had to put other pieces in place to support my endeavor, so I concurrently began therapy and started a meditation practice. I whittled away at the emotional issues that contributed to my unhealthy behaviors at the same time as I used exercise and nutrition to enhance my emotional health…and the more I exercised the less depressed I became. Lastly, I owe my success to the amazing staff and members at Undisputed. I remember when Victor, one of my noon boxing class buddies, told me I was his inspiration because I worked so hard. I was shocked, and hearing this made me redouble my efforts. I credit my friend Tania for getting me into Jiu Jitsu. She encouraged me every day for months until I finally got up the nerve to try it, for which I am very grateful as I love Jiu Jitsu with a passion. My awesome teacher Itabora Ferreira and my Jiu Jitsu teammates have given me support and friendship as I navigate this complex and powerful martial art. I owe a debt of gratitude to Stephanie for her skill in designing a weight training routine that gradually built up my muscles and have me enormous strength, and for her friendship which kept me motivated when I wanted to give up. And last but not least, I want to thank Brian Schwartz for his encouragement and for having created a place such as UBG which he operates with amazing integrity, devotion, and a sense of family and community. Though writing this is intimidating and kind of vulnerable, I wanted to do so because becoming a member of Undisputed has changed my life. I have lost 86 pounds thus far, and though I still wish to lose another 10 pounds, I feel great about what I have accomplished and excited to continue to push myself towards new challenges.