Editor's note: The following is an excerpt from a story submitted by Laura Jim to the newsletter of her employer, Central Council Tlingit Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska.
One year ago, I lived a sedentary life partnered with fast food addiction, poor food choices and plenty of overeating. My heaviest ever recorded weight was 239 lbs., which, at a height of 5 feet, 4 inches, was out of control. I was embarrassed in my own skin, I hated the way I looked and I felt a constant shame about myself. I had tried all sorts of diets like low-carb and low-calorie and wasted plenty of money on an assortment of different diet pills that were all "guaranteed" to help me lose weight, but none of them worked. I also tried going to the gym, but I never really knew where to start and after a few weeks I'd give up and go back to my unhealthy lifestyle. I felt sick and I realized that if I didn't change my ways or start setting a good example for my sons, they too would follow in my footsteps and grow to lead unhappy, unhealthy lives. So last September, I came up with a plan that would hopefully change my life.
I already knew that I would be taking two college courses that semester at the University of Alaska Southeast and because I was in need of elective credits for my degree, I vowed that physical education would be one of the classes I would take. Taking P.E. as a college course would mean that I would have to stick to it - I couldn't quit or I would fail P.E., which could affect obtaining my degree. I knew that the only real way to fail P.E. is to not attend, so I figured all I had to do was make sure I went to every gym class and I would pass. Also, because of my poor fitness level, I figured a strength training class would be my best choice - I could build muscle to support my weight. I chose Power Pump, a full-body strength building course. It's a one-hour class held two days a week. Since I was pretty much 100 percent sedentary already, I figured that even just 2 hours a week of physical activity was by far better than what I was doing before, right? I had nothing to lose but weight, so I enrolled.
My first day in class I was so ashamed and embarrassed of myself, but I knew I was in the right place and by just being there I was doing something good for myself. As each week passed, I faithfully attended Power Pump and I began to feel stronger. I even started to see the muscle building all around my body.
After about a month and a half of Power Pump, I decided to participate in a "Biggest Loser" contest sponsored by my employer, Central Council Tlingit Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska.
Strength training, cardio and healthy eating boosted my fitness level and weight loss. With each weekly weigh-in, my weight continued to drop. By the final weigh-in on Jan. 15, I had lost 45.7 lbs., 20.26 percent of my body weight and was announced as the "Biggest Loser."
During the next five months after the competition I kept up with my workouts and focused on building more strength and muscle. I lost another 7lbs and dropped 2 clothing sizes.
In June, CCTHITA announced yet another "Biggest Loser" contest. Again, I participated. On Sept. 16, I was announced as the "Biggest Loser" for a second consecutive win.
To date I have lost 81 lbs., dropped six sizes and went from a body fat percentage of 39 percent to 16.5 percent. I believe that the ideal, healthy way to lose weight is by being physically active and making healthy food choices. Today, I continue living healthy, I utilize CCTHITA's Wellness Flex Plan Lunch option to participate in physical activities, I strength train, run and I enjoy doing fun physical activities with my family.
I owe my success to CCTHITA, to my UAS Power Pump instructor Fran Polumsky for bringing fitness back into my life and teaching me so much about my body, to my husband and family for all of their love and support and to myself for sticking to it. Winning the "Biggest Loser" has been such an amazing accomplishment and it feels wonderful to be recognized for my hard work and dedication, but more importantly, I feel that by changing my lifestyle and becoming healthier, I have won the best prize of all; I have won back my life!