Health Challenge kicks off

Staff Writer

The Grand Lake Health Challenge held it’s kick off event Tuesday evening in the auditorium of Memorial High School and those participating not only won door prizes but got up and started moving to begin the long journey to losing weight.
At the event, Brittany Thiebeau, a fitness coordinator with the local YMCAs, shared the struggles and triumphs she experienced on her own weight loss journey.
Her course began in 2015 when she was at the YMCA in Minster/New Bremen where she was asked to be a swim instructor. She said she went home to try on her bathing suit and had a meltdown because of the way she looked. That was her first “a-ha” moment. She then decided to go to the store and buy a new suit, only to have her second meltdown — in 24 hours — because she wasn’t happy with the way she looked.
The mother of three children expressed that she panicked about having to stand in front of not only a group of children in swim wear but also having to stand in front of the parents.
“I almost called in to say, ‘nope, nevermind. I’m not going to teach swim lessons, I don’t want to be in my swimsuit in front of all these people. It’s not going to happen, you could not hold a gun to my head and get me into a swimsuit,’” she said. “But I also thought that I could use that as this is my ‘a-ha’ moment. This is the moment that I can change the rest of my life if I just take this moment where I’m crying in the dressing room at Dunhams and say, ‘this is the time that I turn things around.’”
And that’s what she did, although the process wasn’t easy. She started her weight loss path at 265 pounds. To help keep her on track she made a private Instagram account where she could document all aspects of her weight loss, the good, the bad and the ugly. She cut out pop from her diet and she started going to the Y, for herself, three times a week.
“I had been to the gym enough to know that, that 1 o’clock to 3:30 time frame, there would be no one in there,” she said. “I wouldn’t feel humiliated on the equipment. I was by myself and I could just do my own thing.”
She started in the weight and the cardio rooms, just walking the on the elliptical and watching Youtube videos and copying the moves they were doing. In the first month, she lost 15 pounds just from lifting small weights, walking and cutting out pop.
Thiebeau used the motivation from that first month to keep herself on track. Accountability became a big part of her journey.
She had to hold herself accountable to go to the gym when she planned to. She had to hold herself accountable to make healthy eating choices. She had to hold herself accountable to post to the Instagram account to keep the diary of her journey.
But she wasn’t alone in her fight.
Support from her family, specifically her husband, helped her to stay with her goals. Her friends supported her as well, and she even convinced some to join in the fitness challenge with her.
While getting to the gym can be a struggle in itself for almost anyone, the next big struggle Thiebeau faced was eating right, while also feeding her family.
Meal preparation was her solution to making sure she was eating balanced and healthy meals. But, she did realize that doesn’t work for everyone. She tried meal prepping for her whole family and while it worked for her, her husband wasn’t so keen on the idea for himself.
She also had to identify her triggers for bad eating habits and find a way to combat them. Emotional eating, bored eating, social events and watching movies were the big triggers for Thiebeau. Also the grocery store was a dangerous place for her.
“Every single time I would go to the grocery store I would get a Coke and 3 Musketeers bar in the checkout line,” Thiebeau said. “And sometimes I would go to the grocery store like three times a week, so it adds up.”
To combat the triggers, Thiebeau got creative. For the grocery store she made a habit of bringing water and healthy snacks with her so that every time she got the urge to buy something unhealthy she had something to stop herself. Same thing with the movie theater, she snuck in healthy snacks. And if she bought her kids candy and popcorn, she said she would make sure they sat on the other side of her husband so she couldn’t reach over and share the treats.
With bored eating, she said that often came after dinner and her trick to combat this was simply to brush her teeth. She said that when she knew she was having her last meal of the day she would immediately brush, floss and use mouthwash because that would stop her from going back to the kitchen for a snack.
The pop she quit cold turkey, switching instead to a gallon of water every day.
By making the lifestyle changes, Thiebeau was able to drop 100 pounds. She also was able to accomplish goals she never thought possible, like running several 5Ks and signing up for her first half marathon later this year.
To wrap up her speech, Thiebeau told those in attendance that it doesn’t matter where they start and to not get too down on themselves if they fall off the wagon. She also challenged the participants to set two sets of goals: one for the health challenge and one for their personal lives and it didn’t have to be fitness related. Then she recommended they place that goals list in a spot where they will always see it and then make a plan on how they are going to reach those goals.
“You can achieve those goals if you just put your mind to it and you just don’t give up on yourself,” she said. “Don’t think you can just quit because quit is not in our vocabulary tonight.”