Mandy Hummel

It’s been said that inside every fat person there is a skinny one trying to get out. In my case, that skinny person was screaming to get out, until I finally decided to listen.

High school is probably the worst place to be overweight — you’re surrounded by beauty and youth as the standard. Most girls, even the thin ones, never feel skinny or pretty enough. Enter the fat girl — me. I was heavy from my early teens until age 22, when I topped out at 230 pounds and wore a size 20!

Anyone who has ever had a weight problem — not to mention obesity — knows the turmoil, the self-hatred and the inner dialogue full of self-deprecating remarks every time you look in the mirror, every time you try to shop for clothes, especially with your skinny friends and family members. There is no way you can spin obesity. At some point in your life, you have to face your demons and ask yourself: Are you going to live this way forever or do something about it?

I wanted to lose weight, so I started by eating smaller portion sizes and making healthier food choices a couple of years ago. I had some setbacks, but within a year, I lost 20 pounds and started wearing a size 16. But my VIV Moment came later, in June 2011, when I attended a boot camp at Cardiogirl, a Valencia, CA-based boutique fitness facility for women. I knew this was just what I needed to accomplish my weight-loss goal of getting down to 150 pounds.

I took a class three times a week called “CardioCHAOS.” Each session is a one-hour circuit training program: a combination of cardio, plyometrics and strength training. I was working my muscles in ways I had never done before.

When a person is carrying lots of extra weight, an exercise class can be more difficult than for an average-sized woman. And when you look around and you are possibly the heaviest person in the class, the goal of a healthy you may seem far from reality. I cried a lot and often became discouraged, but with the help of my trainers and fellow Cardiogirls, I ate, drank and slept fitness. I believe the single biggest factor to sticking with my goals was the constant encouragement from my Cardiogirl trainers. Everyone seemed to notice each of my achievements along the way.

After a year of healthy eating (as important to reaching any weight-loss goal as exercise is), working through all of the mental and emotional challenges and being so discouraged that I was ready to quit, I began to have a breakthrough. The scale doesn’t lie. I had lost weight — a lot of weight. Since joining Cardiogirl, I’ve lost 60 pounds and have kept them off by using willpower, eating a healthy diet and sticking to workout classes that have helped me get and stay toned.

I was overweight almost my entire life, so I still can’t get used to the girl in the mirror wearing size 6 clothes. I feel more confident and my attitude toward food has changed. I don’t “treat” myself with food anymore. A week after joining Cardiogirl, I decided to see how long I could go without fast food and soda. I haven’t touched either since.

I wish I could say that it’s easy or that it doesn’t take a long time to achieve the mental picture of the you that you’ve always been inside, but it isn’t easy and it isn’t a short road to that goal. But you can do it, if you make the decision to start by getting out of bed in the morning and saying to yourself, “No more!” You’ll never know what you are capable of until you push your limits and step outside your comfort zone.

I am now a personal trainer at Cardiogirl trying to help other women turn their lives around with healthful dietary choices and an excellent workout program that has proven results. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing my clients smile after accomplishing something they thought they couldn’t do.