Excited to share this inspiring story with you of Tammy who is Fit & Fifty. She proves that it is never too late. She is an inspiration to me, and I am sure you will find this a great read. Its time to change the way women think about aging and fitness. We can do it ….
- Tell us about yourself and what you do?I have not always been involved in athletics or general fitness. When I was in high school, I was diagnosed with scoliosis. Back then, the recommendation was to avoid athletics, so I was not allowed to participate in anything. In my 20’s, I had a job at the front desk at a big box athletic club. That’s back when aerobics classes were popular, but that didn’t really interest me. I was intrigued by lifting, fascinated by bodybuilders, but didn’t do much about it. It intimidated me.Life happened. I started working, eventually started to work on that college degree I didn’t finish. Sixteen years after I graduated from high school, I had a math degree and was married. Started working hard to be the best teacher I could be, even if that meant neglecting my health. Eventually, I was 47, almost 200 pounds, on high blood pressure meds, and had a very worried doctor.One Sunday afternoon in March of 2009, the chest pains were sharper than usual and would not subside. I asked my husband to take me to the ER because I was scared. Considering my age and health status, they admitted me quickly,ran tests, and monitored me for about four hours before they determined it was anxiety. However, the doctor made a point to say “not this time”, but I should expect to have a cardiac event sooner rather than later. That was March. I made the decision to change, but didn’t do anything until school was out in June. I belonged to a gym for years, but never went. At the time, I enjoyed watching “The Biggest Loser” because back then, that show was the only example I had seen of people making transformations. Each of the contestants used a BodyBugg, so I bought one in June 2009 and signed up for nutritional coaching. I worked with her for 9 months and she taught me how to track and log, how to make better food choices, and introduced me to the concept of clean eating. I didn’t lift back then- just walked a lot until I had the courage to go to the gym. When I did, I just walked on the treadmills. I used to walk and watch the people lifting below. I knew I wanted to do it, but I was still intimidated.During the first 9 months of diet and cardio, I lost 40 pounds and then progress stalled. I struggled to maintain my weight loss and was beginning to gain again. I knew I needed to do something differently, but I didn’t know what to do because I wasn’t willing to leave my comfort zone. In May 2010, a high school friend lost her battle with breast cancer. Paula was fearless. When she died, I knew I had to find the courage to do something that scared me. Part of that was to honor her and part of it was to reclaim a life I was too scared to live. That’s when I remembered that crazy dream I had when I was in my 20’s – bodybuilding. In June 2009, I hired a trainer and asked him to teach me how to lift. I gave myself two years to get ready for the first show. I worked with general fitness trainers for the first 9 months, and they taught me the basics. I worked with a local coach to prep for my 2012 and 2013 shows. I’ve been working with an online coach, Alberto Nunez of 3D Muscle Journey, since November 2013. To date, I’ve done three bodybuilding shows and one strongman competition.
In December 2012, my before/after picture was shared on a big Facebook page for female competitors. The administrator of that page didn’t believe it was a legitimate transformation picture at first – he had to research my story before he would publish it. From there, it was shared on a couple other large pages, and then it flew with thousands of shares. I became “Facebook Famous” rather quickly. A teacher friend contacted a local news anchor, who had already seen the picture, but didn’t know I lived in the same town. That’s when I was contacted to do the TV interview.http://www.ktvn.com/story/21254004/someone-2-know-tammy-white
This has all been such a blessing beyond reclaiming my physical and emotional health. I am a better wife. I am a better teacher, despite the fact that I don’t work long hours anymore, I don’t have the elaborate lessons I used to have, and I’m a slow grader. I’m having a lot more fun and I understand better what it’s like to do something that seems to be impossible. Some of my kids follow me online, so we connect on a level that isn’t about math. That helps me be a better teacher for them, too. They ask a lot of questions about nutrition and training.
I have NASM personal training and fitness nutrition certifications, but I’m not working with clients right now. I did do that for about a year and I liked it, but I had to accept that don’t have time for it while I’m teaching if I’m going to continue bodybuilding. And I am still training to progress in my sport. Right now, I am not planning to compete again until summer 2017 at the earliest. My coach regularly talks about where I will be in 10 years – I think that’s exciting. Even though I’m 53, I really am new to this and I love it. Also this is my 20th year of teaching. I’m not sure when I’m going to retire, but when I do, I will have a plan ready to go that pays forward what I’ve learned in some way. Could be working with people again one-on-one, guest-speaking, writing, or something I haven’t thought of yet. I’m open to following this path wherever it leads.
- Do you follow a specific diet? At first I was a militant clean eater. I found that to be too restrictive and stressful long-term. Now I am more flexible. At this time, I’m not tracking at all. When I’m in contest prep, or when my coach decides it’s necessary, he will give me macro ranges to use. Food choices are always mine to make.
- What does a week of training/exercise look for you? Right now, I’m lifting 4-6 days a week, depending on how busy I am at work. Not doing much cardio right now. Maybe a walk once a week, but that’s mostly for stress management. Teaching high school math can be a little stressful some days.
- What would you say to those trying to change and make the change like you did? Get the help you need. It’s worth the investment to have someone there, not just to teach you how to do things properly, but to make sure you don’t get hurt, and to provide accountability and support. Everyone thinks the exercise is the hardest part. It’s not. The nutrition is a bigger challenge and the mental game can derail you. I did not do this alone and don’t recommend it. If someone cannot afford a trainer, there are options. Group training, online-coaching, YouTube videos from reliable science-based fitness experts, or online groups are other ways to get the information and support necessary to stick with it.
- What are your strengths and weaknesses? For both – discipline. It helps and hurts me. I tend to get into a fixed mindset about what I’m capable of achieving as a competitive bodybuilder. Genetically, I have some negatives when on stage being judged as a bodybuilder. It’s tough to be judged on what happens during those few minutes on stage when it took years of training and sacrifices to get there. My coach has worked with me a bit to help me stay grounded in the idea of personal progression. Even though I’m older and feel like I’ve accomplished some things in my life, I’m still new to this sport. I have a lot left to do.