"Within a few weeks, I'd replaced my usual food rewards with something even better — a new and improved me."
Growing up, I always led a very active life. I played softball and basketball, ran track, and was a member of the cheer and pom squad. However, during college I lost a lot of weight (down to 107 pounds at 5'6") due to a bacterial ulcer that doctors didn't pinpoint for two years. After two weeks on a heavy antibiotic, I was good as new…or so I thought. After two years of near starvation, my body started to hold on to every morsel of food I put in my body. For the next ten years, I slowly gained pounds at a time, and I struggled to find myself. Not happy in my personal life, I dove headfirst into my career in politics, never realizing just how out of control my weight had become.
The final straw came in May 2007 at my sister's wedding. She had asked me to be a part of her big day, and I turned her down, because at 247 pounds I didn't want to stand up in front of so many people. I was never so ashamed of myself for allowing my life to get so far out of my control. I made a vow to myself that day I would shed 100 pounds and take control of my life.
It took time for the transition: I needed my friends and family for accountability, and I threw out all my bad food and restocked my fridge with healthier food. On Monday, June 4, 2007, I officially began my journey. I developed better eating habits first, limiting my calories to between 1200-1400 per day, and in late July I started working out. Like almost everything else I do in life, I went full-steam ahead, not realizing that the years of being sedentary weren't going to allow me instantly to run for two miles. I got an overuse injury, but I was determined to not let it stop me from accomplishing the goals I had set for myself.
I am grateful for Jillian Michaels's passion to help others lead healthy, fulfilled lives. After winning the 10-Ton Challenge essay, I was amazed by the time I spent with Jillian in Los Angeles. In my one-on-one workout she helped me realize something about myself that I hadn't known up until that day — I'm strong and capable of much more than I ever thought possible. I'm still learning, growing, succeeding, and failing. And I'm okay with all of it. Before I couldn't and wouldn't tell people "No," but now I say it regularly without guilt. I love that I feel confident enough to wear cute little tank tops, I love that exercise makes me feel strong, and I love not being scared of what lies ahead.
The extra weight I carried around for a little more than a decade not only weighed me down physically, it also weighed down my personality. Now that the weight has been literally lifted off my shoulders, I feel like a completely different person. I'm the Amber I used to be — I've always laughed a lot and enjoyed making others laugh, but now it has a whole new meaning. I'm not laughing to cover up insecurities in my life; I'm laughing because of the pure joy I feel deep inside myself.
*Participants can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.