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I Am Strong and That Person My Family Can Lean On

“Our greatest glory is not never falling but in rising every time we fall” – Confucius

My journey to becoming a healthier, happier me started when I was looking online for a class that would get me motivated to work hard on getting back in shape. I came across the Slam BAM contest and thought, competition, this will get me going. So, I signed up… and then the very next day thought, I’m crazy no way can I do this, I just won’t go to the information meeting… no harm done. Then, I got a phone call from Amy; she was so excited that I had signed up for this opportunity. So, there is was, I officially had to do this, no way could I back out now, I did not want to be the loser that quit before she even began. I am so glad that Amy encouraged me to start this beginning to a new me.

I think back to why I wanted to start this journey… my mom Maggie was diagnosed with breast cancer and I wanted to take control of the things in my life that I had a say in. My health, both mind and body, is a determining factor to what I am going to accomplish in my life. A quote that was sent to me by our coaches, “Assume responsibility for the quality of you own life, “ made me realize I can be the strong woman I am meant to be, I can be the person that never says, I can’t. I need to make it happen. I can’t wait around for someone else or some miracle to do it for me. I am on my way to being this person. I took responsibility to commit myself completely.

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It it Time for Me to Take Control of the Things in Life I Can Control

I have always seen myself as an average size girl. Every few months I go through phases where I am motivated and excited to get toned and in shape…for some reason this only last a couple of weeks before I am back to my old routine. Two years ago my mom, Maggie, was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. This has controlled the way I feel on a daily basis, some days I am dragging and tired and I don’t know why, others I feel angry that I can’t do anything about what has happened to her.

I have deiced it is time for me to take control of the things in life I can control. My appearance and self-confidence are two things I can take charge of. I am using this challenge to strengthen my self-esteem and overcome obstacles that have been weighing me down and keeping me from reaching my full potential.

~ Michelle Horkman, 2009 SLAM BAM Contest 3rd Place

Black Leather Pants

Black leather pants. That has been my dream to wear them, because then I know I am fit with the body of my dream. I have never had that body. When my mother is asked about my size as a child, she responds, “She wasn’t fat, she was…happy.” That may have been true as a child, but it changed as I became self-aware in middle school. My sister who is four years older would put on my clothes and pull out the waist to show me how big they were on her. At school I was called “the Pillsbury dough girl” by the boy on whom I had a crush. In high school, I was told that I had a pretty face but that my body did not match it. The worst memory for me was when I was at camp as a teenager. A group of boys would chant “wide-earth” every time I walked in or out of the cafeteria. My mother could not understand my unhappiness with my body and self. She told me that my size and shape was the best it would ever be in my life. She basically indicated that my fate was that of most of the women in my family: a life of obesity.

I now have successfully stayed the thinnest person in my family, but I am still overweight and I have never worn black leather pants. I have had two children and been diagnosed with hypothyroidism. I have been told that they are both reasons to not be able to lose weight. I accepted that for a period of time while I cared for our family until I realized that the way I looked in pictures was not a bad camera angle, but my true self. I realized the scale was not changing. I realized that I avoided looking in mirrors because every time I did, all I could think were negative thoughts about me. I finally realized that I was not happy. I had to make a change. I started doing boot camp. I started noticing changes in my body and I started doing exercises that I never thought I would be able to do. I realized for the first time that change is possible.

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Confessions of a SLAM BAM Contestant

In order to be fair, I have to be completely honest, and make three confessions. I would ask for you to read on without judgment, but I recognize that I have put myself in a position for just that. Here it goes…

First, I have not eaten clean 100% of the time. Yes, it is true. I have strayed from the diet at various moments along my journey. I have done this because my goal for this competition was not to lose as much weight until the end. My intent was to start a new lifestyle, which meant that I wanted to learn the “how to’s” or what to eat but in the context of my life. My plan was to learn to eat with control, so when I took a bite of my children’s macaroni & cheese, it was a conscious decision that I controlled the when and how much. It prevented me from saying “I can’t” and allowed me to say, “Is that what I really want because I may eat it anytime as a treat?”

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I am Taking Charge of My Life and No Longer Merely a Passenger

I chose to be fat

I did not make this choice consciously…

But all my choices put me in that place – uninformed and unaware.

I have always been a people pleaser, this attitude led me to put others first and not evaluate priorities for the person who most needed my help – me. Through the years, I hid behind helping people at work and those in my personal life. I thought this would work – that I could have friends, excel at work, and god forbid, get a boyfriend – if I was always helping, even if I was unhealthy, overweight, and unhappy. When it was evident that this strategy was not working, I finally realized it was time to take control of my life. I got very lucky that Google pointed me in the direction of MABC back in February and the Slam Bam challenge soon thereafter.

When I chose to take on the challenge, subsequently making myself a priority, the reactions were not encouraging. Colleagues wondered how my work commitments would be affected, family worried that my grades would suffer, and I wondered if I was up to the challenge. Over the past 16 weeks, I have taught myself that I am more than up to the challenge. My days began at 4:30 am and end at 9:30 pm – bootcamp, work, graduate school four nights a week. I still wonder sometimes how I made this all work!! There is a thrill in knowing that I am taking charge of my life and no longer merely a passenger. If you were to ask what kept me so committed, I don’t think I would have an answer. Let’s be honest, the physical results were wonderful and the compliments were great. But I think overriding all of that was a new found respect for myself and a realization that I deserved more than I had allowed myself before.

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I Am Eager to Grow Smaller Physically and Bigger Mentally

“You have such a great personality.” “What pretty eyes!”

“Don’t get rid of that booty.” “Black guys love thick girls”

These are the comments I have heard a majority of my life – people thinking it is a compliment, trying to help, providing encouragement, asking me out on a date, you name it. These are the comments that have come to define who others think I am for the past 28 years. These are the comments that I am sick and tired of. These are the comments that hard work, perseverance, lots of sweat, and introspection will annihilate over the course of the next several months.

For years I have been the “biggest” teammate, daughter, girlfriend, sibling, and friend. Never have these individuals called me fat, thankfully I have a good support system, but nonetheless, it is fact

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