When you embark on a life altering change, there are some things to have in place before you start… well, a LOT to have in place actually, but one specifically that will go a long way to your eventual success or failure is identifying your SUPPORT system.  I have found some truly and simply AMAZING folks who have supported me. I have also strained many relationships and even lost some as a result of the choices I am now making for myself. I have always been of the opinion that friendships and relationships are fluid. Something life has taught me over and over. People come in and out of your life for a reason and a season. I know that’s another trite little saying, but it could not be more true! Who once served you may turn out to be the person least supportive of your efforts to change, even going as far as sabotaging your efforts.

Here is what I have learned about making changes.

Don’t Make Assumptions!

I thought that everyone who was close to me would automatically support my efforts. This was NOT the case. Let’s face it; people grow comfortable with you, just as you maybe grew comfortable in your complacency. If you change – does that mean they have to? Change for some is scary and doesn’t feel so great.  There were several occasions that jealousy or uncertainty about my process turned into hurtful, biting words and sarcasm from people I would never think would be unsupportive of me. But that can and does happen. It’s a shame for sure, but as my confidence grew, I learned how to confront these individuals in my life.  Some I have been able to talk it out with and regrettably, others I simply had to let go.

Directly ASK for help and support!

This too seems like a no brainer but this one works on a couple of levels. First, when you know the goals you are pursuing and can accurately articulate them to your friends and family, it goes a long way to keeping you accountable.  The additional bonus of having direct conversations is that you can hopefully avoid the point above. It was only after about 6 months into my journey that I had it in me to directly state my goals and ask for support. It takes the pressure off of everyone. Be willing to be specific about what you need as well. For example, I asked my sister Vikki to work out with me a few times a week. She’s got nothing on Jillian Michaels in terms of yelling to get me motivated. I really like working out with her because she has this “put your head down and go” attitude. She powers through entire workouts like a champ and is inspiring to watch.  My other sister Rebecca I asked to be available to me to just hear out my frustrations. I told her I didn’t need solutions or suggestions, simply an ear to listen. Both of them have been amazing for the last year and a half at this point in always being there for me. As my needs change, so do our conversations and expectations. It feels awesome and much less stressful to simply be open and honest.

Stand in gratitude!

I did not do this alone. I had help every step of the way. I have learned that recognizing these folks and taking the time to thank them is as much of this process as the lbs on the scale. I could not have gotten this far without my first round of trainers at LA Fitness (pre Core Stix). Danielle White is the first to kick my butt, hold my hand, and listen to me complain day in and day out about what was NOT happening. She showed an amazing amount of patience and support.  I owe Danielle probably more than anyone. She was with me at the start when it would have been easy to just give up, but she would not let me quit. Period. My first workout partners were Janice and Meg who day after day kept me going to class and working harder every day.  The second set of LA Fitness trainers are Lauren Cerqua and Rocel “Chi Chi” Perez who continue to motivate me 3 times a week in Hip Hop class. These girls keep exercise FUN, new and exciting week after week. I love them and their style of teaching so much that they have inspired me to get Hip Hop certified before the end of 2013!

Jennifer Hoffman (Core Stix Trainer) had an immeasurable impact on my life, not just fitness. Her lessons included helping me finding my voice, my breath, and my inner confidence. She trained me with more patience than I knew I needed. She would quietly stand by and just wait for me to tell her all of the reasons I was afraid, that I was unwilling, or not strong enough.  I never had the option to not try. Eventually, I would complete what she was asking of me… as the weeks went on, my protesting subsided after I realized that Jen never once asked me to do something she knew I would fail at…quite the opposite. The first time I completed a 300 (50 reps of 6 different exercises) with her, I was in awe because I knew I was a new person.  She is a gifted trainer without a doubt.  My Core Stix Challenge family also deserves a lot of credit in terms of keeping me going through 12 intense weeks. From being strangers at the start, we ended as a team- and I can’t find the words to express my gratitude!

As I move forward, I am interchanging the above trainers and adding some new folks to my ‘team’. I am grateful to Mike Kadar, for not only taking the leap to do the Core Stix/ Black n Gold Girl Challenge experience but for his additional “Good on you” responses to my nutty exercise related texts to him (sometimes that’s all you need to hear).  I have also added a Nutritionist to my team which I will detail in my next blog and highlight this process more specifically as we move forward.

Forgive YOU…. You will NOT BE PERFECT!

If you are one who has high expectations of yourself, I am begging you to let them go! This is a process and unfortunately, you have no other choice than to trust it if you are committed to seeing it work! Your diet will have days you “fall off the wagon”. Sometimes what will start as a run will end as a walk… life is life and this journey is full of ups and downs.. and you know what??.. THAT’S OK! It has to be! Your body will need just as much time as your brain to get on the same page. Learning to find BALANCE is a much better goal than trying to be “perfect” at it. Allowing it to be ok to start really hearing and LISTENING to your body is in the long run is a SUPER AWESOME THING! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a permission slip to stop but sometimes you just have to let it be what it is. Celebrate the great days and let the bad ones go as quickly as possible! I wish I would have learned this one months ago!!!!

Embrace who you are becoming or have become!

Can’t lie, this is still a big challenge for me. I’m only starting to get used to the comments and the attention I seem to be getting these days. I certainly wouldn’t change it because it means that I am achieving my goal to become the healthiest version of me I can be. My voice feels calmer but more assertive, my actions seem more directed and driven, and I feel a strange resolve and confidence knowing that I will achieve my goals..especially given the village that I outlined above behind me continuing to challenge and support my efforts. To see them proud of me, make me proud and I know that my success is THEIR success!


By Cassandra Buncie