After allowing the needs of her family to overshadow her own, Maureen Brintnell decided it was time for a health transformation. The result: she’s healthier and happier than ever before.
Maureen Brintnell is not your typical southwestern Ontario woman.
A mother of eight who homeschools each of her children – yes, you read that right – she recently found herself absorbed in her family and their needs, leaving little time for herself. With no room left for her goals and dreams, she was gaining weight and feeling down.
Like many women, she had attempted to lose weight more than once, with some forays being more successful than others. After much trial and error, she found a plan that stuck – and along the way, she learned to love herself and her body, and to always stay positive.
A Lack of Energy
A decade ago, Maureen was nearly 200 pounds, feeling sluggish and unable to shake the feeling that she would never be able to get back to her former self.
“Initially, I tried every get-thin-quick scheme out there – the pills, the shakes, the teas,” remembers Maureen. “Then I tried running it off, which was terrible for my knees.”
Realizing that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to loving your body, Maureen decided to step back and look at her life in a holistic, top-to-bottom way. For instance, though running wasn’t her jam, discovering that it didn’t agree with her allowed her to shift her focus to self-care, and she ultimately learned what worked for her.
“I was listening to music and podcasts, and rediscovering personal interests in the process,” she notes. Even simple steps like taking daily trips outside of her busy household helped her to reintroduce herself to the person she was, independent of her role as a mother.
But learning to let go of the guilt that came with finding “Maureen time” was difficult. Luckily, she had a great support system waiting in the wings.
“Ultimately, having the support of my husband and all of my children was such an important piece for me,” says Maureen. “Knowing that they wanted me to be successful kept me going when I wanted to give up.”
Finding Strength in Her Health Transformation
Finally comfortable with the idea of putting herself first, Maureen was ready to take the next step and tapped a trainer to assist her in learning proper form in the gym. Maureen calls this help “a game changer.”
“The move to strength training over strict cardio was when I started to see real changes in my body composition,” she says of this support.
But it wasn’t just in the gym that she began to adjust her mindset. A better diet multiplied the effects that she was seeing, and according to Maureen, it was the kickstart she needed.
“When I moved away from deprivation to fueling my body so that it can perform optimally, I really began to see improvements not only in my energy and the success of my workouts but also my mental health,” she says.
Of course, it wasn’t all smooth sailing from there. One thing Maureen couldn’t outrun was the damage that her knees had incurred through her attempts at jogging.
“I have had to modify lower-body workouts to counteract it,” explains Maureen. Also, and unsurprisingly, the pandemic threw a wrench in her workout routine, and the demands of schooling her large family at home meant that sometimes she had to sacrifice exercise for education.
Pushing Through Hard Times
As with everything in her life, Maureen uses these setbacks as inspiration. “I have learned to find the time, and a short workout is better than no workout,” she reflects. “Someone said once to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. So, when things are not perfect, learning to readjust and stay focused on the journey was pivotal for me.”
Now in her fifties, there’s no stopping Maureen as she crushes goal after goal. She’s continuing to build strength with her trainer and has maintained the same cheery disposition that helped her get to this stage.
For those wanting to feel better about themselves, Maureen says that the secret lies within us all – and bonus, it requires pressing pause every now and again.
“This is a journey, especially in midlife,” she explains. “We need to rest, fuel our bodies, learn to manage stress, and build muscle. It’s not going to happen overnight, and any program that promises that won’t be sustainable.”
Last, no matter how solitary the journey may be, Maureen believes there is always one person you can rely on.
“There are going to be times that feel lonely and like you are not being supported,” she says. “In those moments, remember why you started and be your own cheerleader. You got this!”
Photos by Paul Buceta