Name: Mikel Brabham
Note from the editor: Usually GirlsGoneSporty follows a set question/answer format for the Real Sporty Women column, but reading through Mikel's submission was just too much fun to alter! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Deciding to ditch old habits
My name is Mikel Brabham. I am a 32 year old wife and mother of 3 children. All I ever wanted was to blend in, fit in, and maintain some level of coolness. Unfortunately "sporty" was never cool enough for me. Sweating in gym class just wasn’t an option. The tennis skirts we wore on the tennis team in high school were really cute, though, so that was the main reason why I participated in the matches.
As time passed, my self-esteem and my weight seemed to fluctuate like a yo-yo. My college weight was entertaining to think about because five pounds turned into 25 pounds before the end of my senior year.
And then, the kids came. It was like the weight started attacking me like it had a vendetta against me. I tried to run away, I did, I did! But the foods, oh the foods! The speed at which each fast food restaurant could satisfy such a strong craving was so impressive. I couldn’t resist the strong aroma that I smelled as I drove past a million and one drive-thrus on my daily commute. My couch was my best friend and food was my source of comfort. This was how I lived until the day that changed my life: the day I saw my knees.
I remember staring in the mirror one day and I made the mistake of looking down at my knees. I couldn’t believe it. Was this what everyone saw when they looked at me? I looked like an obese giraffe on top, the Pillsbury dough boy in the middle, and an elephant from my thighs to my ankles. I couldn’t believe it, “Dumbo and I could have been relatives” was all I could think when I saw my knee caps. This was the day that changed my life. It prompted the change that has influenced my lifestyle and my career.
Morphing into "sporty"
I already knew what I had to do, I just had to do it and this time I enlisted help. I started working out in my local gym for 60 to 90 minutes every day. I began incorporating Zumba DVDs and classes, as well as the P90X series. My Under Armour sports bra and workout pants, Brooks running shoes, and Fiji water became must haves in my gym bag. I couldn’t believe it, I was becoming a “sporty chic!" Before I knew it, my MP3 playlist became the driving force behind the bursts of energy I experienced at the gym. Songs like Milkshake by Kelis, It Takes Two by Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock, My Boo by Ghost town DJ’s, and the strength of Beyonce’s Run the World helped me push myself to heights previously unknown with each gym workout.
I used my Facebook community as my accountability partners and they’ve been motivating me every day since I decided to start my journey. I talk about my inner foodie “Polly” who keeps me bound by her cunning tactics, but most of the time, I rise to the occasion and win. For instance, I know that “Polly” loves things that taste good and I like things that are good for my health, so I have to compromise with her on a daily basis. To keep her satisfied and also maintain healthy numbers on the scale, I have to eat foods that are good to taste and light on the waist. My absolute favorite food is lightly seasoned grilled salmon with a side of spinach salad with oranges, cranberries, a few almond slivers all topped with my homemade vinaigrette.
Passing the love along
To date, I’ve been able to lose and keep off 50 pounds and I started a non-profit organization called Leaders By Example (www.leadersbyexample.org) that motivates, educates and inspires people from all walks of life to choose to live healthier lifestyles. As I provide motivation to each and every member of LBE, I become encouraged through their stories and humbled that they’ve allowed me to share in their journey to weight loss and healthy living.
Encouraging people to do the right thing is easy, its walking out what you speak and believe that presents daily challenges. Living a sporty life for a person not accustomed to being active can sometimes be challenging. By writing down my weekly weight loss goals and putting reminders in my phone, I challenge myself to be better than I was the week before. Setting goals is necessary for every step on one’s journey. And if I can do it, anyone can.
I recently set a goal to train and run in a half marathon. And on September 4, 2011, I stood among thousands of half marathoners at the Virginia Beach Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon. It was time for my corral to take off, and I did just that. I breezed past my competition and floated past the one mile mark. As soon as I passed the mile 2 mark, my hip started to dig into my stomach. I looked left at the ambulance and ahead at the 11.1 more miles I had to travel. Although I wouldn’t recommend it for someone else, I went with my heart and continued to jog/walk the remaining race and completed the half marathon. The girl who could barely get around the track, survived her first half marathon!
I can finally say that I am confident, I am healthy, and I am happy with the skin that I’m in! And from the mountaintop I shout words of wisdom for every person who wants to live a healthier lifestyle: This path that we are on is a journey and not a race! Live a life that’s full of zest, excitement and physically intense entertainment; “live the sporty life”!