My Story

One of the main purposes behind Fitsploration is to share my passion for fitness.  I struggled with my body image for the first part of my life, maybe even most of my life.  I also dealt with a significant weight gain for about a decade.  I am very pleased (enthused! ecstatic!) with the progress I have made.  I have found I absolutely love this lifestyle.  I love feeling better mentally and physically, I love being empowered and able to reach my goals, and I love the eating clean.  I embrace each phase and each new goal.  If I had one regret it would be that I wish I had discovered it earlier in life.

Because I would like to use Fitsploration to examine self-acceptance, including body image, I will begin my story when I was in my 20’s, At that point, I would have been considered thin by most standards.  That in no way means that I was content with my body.  In fact, I am not sure of a time until the past year that I was happy with my body  I was not unhappy enough to actually make any real changes; instead I just complained and disliked it.  I ate pretty much whatever, whenever, and however much I wanted. (The running joke when ordering at a restaurant was, “She’ll have page 1”)  I would exercise some but never consistently.  There were still times, that I would try to “diet”.  One of my “diet plans” was to eat hard candy while at work, instead of eating breakfast or lunch.  It’s meets all the criteria, right?  Low fat? Check.  Decreased calorie intake? Check.  Smile  Okay, so that is not a recommended plan and it didn’t work so well.  Bottom line was that it was just easier to complain and be unhappy.

Me, in my 30’s:


My eating habits caught up with me and I gained around 50 pounds.  (Please note the Pepsi in the bag.)  Needless to say, I was now even more unhappy with myself.  I had successes in other aspects of my life but yet I felt my weight was completely out of my control.  I felt helpless and frustrated.  Oh how I longed for the days when I was thinner and didn’t appreciate it.  I would try anything…what I really mean is EVERYTHING.  I went to the gym: I put in my time on the treadmill, I used the weights, I got into the aerobics craze, I walked, I “jogged” (anyone who knows me, knows that’s not a pretty sight!).  Diet-wise?  Hmmm, I am a southern cook.  Ask me 5 years ago what my favorite meal was and I would proudly announce fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy.  I love food and have a healthy appetite…Back then, I had no tolerance for those salad-eating girls (and I filtered that)!  I did attempt to diet: Weight Watchers? Yep, I counted points.  Low Fat diet? Yep.  Cabbage soup diet?  Well, of course. SlimFast?  Oprah’s doing it, why wouldn’t I?  The best of all…I ordered diet pills over the internet.  (A little unsolicited advice here… don’t mix Xenical (Alli) and Long John Silvers.  That is not a match made in heaven!)  Needless to say, I neither got results nor could I stick with any of those plans.

Another picture from my 30’s:  (Nicer clothes but still no weight change):


What changed?  One day I started going to Studio Fitness in Jacksonville, FL.  Tanya worked me out good and she addressed my diet.  At that time, I believed you could outwork a bad diet.  I was a stubborn client.  A good trainer knows people and will know where and how to influence.  So,Tanya knew when and where to push but she also knew where I was going to have to eventually see for myself.  We did make modifications and I saw successes.  I lost 30-40 pounds and went from out-growing a size 12 to size  6’s and 4’s.  By training with Tanya, I gained confidence.  I could now take what I learned, go into a gym, and feel comfortable working out among the “real gym people”.

I finally had made real progress and then had to move from Jacksonville.  Luckily I maintained around the same weight and size until the winter of 2010.  That year I developed frozen shoulder and along with poor eating and too much drinking, I put on a nice “winter coat”.  After rehabbing my shoulder and out-growing my clothes, I made a commitment to find a good trainer again.  That spring, I started with Strong Girl Fitness which began another phase of this fitness “thing”.  Kim introduced me to a whole new way of working out.  (Remember how I said a good trainer knows how to read people?)  Kim cut me little slack when working out and I left sweat on those mats.  Sweat?! But I HATE to sweat.  She would just smile and make me do it anyway.  She knew how badly I wanted to make real changes.  I had been doing the 17 Day Diet and saw result with it.  I only did if for 14 days but it served the purpose of detoxing the processed food from my diet and eliminating my carb cravings.  Kim then let me borrow her book, “The Metabolic Effect”…just to read.   I gobbled up that information. Wow…this was a whole new approach than calories in versus calories out.  I followed those principles and saw significant change.  The only problem was, I was only willing to eat differently on weekdays.  I would see a noticeable backslide each weekend and then start the week over.  I was determined that I was going to try this plan 7 days a week for 6 weeks.  At that time, I was told by my significant other that it was not a lifestyle that normal people could follow but I begged for him to support me while I tried it for 6 weeks. After 6 weeks, I could see that it was WORKING!  So I didn’t stop…this was not difficult to me.  For years, I had been looking for the easy way and, seriously, here it was.  All I had to do was eat real food and work out smarter.  It took a little more planning, preparation, and commitment; along with some determination to not let others influence me, but it was so worth it.

I continued to eat clean and Kim continued to challenge me with my workouts.  They started changing from a fat loss type workout to lifting heavier weights.  I could start to see real body changes.  I was no longer a smaller version of myself.   My body was looking different and other people were noticing.


This plan that “normal people cannot follow” has become my lifestyle for over a year and a half now and I couldn’t be more satisfied.  It is completely sustainable and fulfilling.  I have met my weight loss goals and exceeded any expectations I had for myself. Those thighs I once hated, I don’t hate any longer.  I am satisfied, happy, and driven to meet new fitness goals.

September 2012, in my 40’s:


As the story goes, yes, I had to move again in July 2012.  With the help of Kim, I was able to find the perfect gym and trainer for this phase. I had overshot my weight loss while going through the changes associated with the move.  When I walked into Brutal Iron Gym and met with Paul, I knew what I wanted…I wanted to gain some size in the form of muscle and I wanted to continue to eat clean.  Paul had/has his work cut out for him and he has stood up to the challenge.  I thought losing fat was hard (oh, and it is!) but to physically break your body down so that it can heal and grow is another game altogether.  Paul teaches me how to handle the mental challenges of training.  He makes me ask myself, can I physically not do any more or am I mentally giving up.  This phase is challenging but at the same time tremendously fulfilling.  I continue to see changes in myself both physically and mentally and I look forward to every step of this journey.

To say this experience has been fulfilling is an understatement.  I have had accomplishments in my life, ones of which I am very proud, but few match how I feel about this.  I hope to share my enthusiasm with everyone!


  8 comments for “My Story

  1. stronggirlfit
    December 15, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    I like cried

    Kim Leonard

  2. stronggirlfit
    December 15, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    Can we please promote

    Kim Leonard

  3. December 15, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    Awww…you know you’re an important part of creating this “monster”. 🙂

  4. Melissa Qualls
    December 25, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    OMG! What an awesome turn around! I’m so proud of you!

  5. March 31, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    Amazing! Pure inspiration for other people!

  6. March 27, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    I keep pointing people to you as a model of how to make this journey! You are Maribeth “Tremendous” Greene. Well done!

    • March 28, 2014 at 9:37 am

      Thank you! I would not be even close to the person I am today without your encouragement and guidance Paul “The Sage” Peterson.

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