Tammy Gibson has turned her health around after a frank chat with one of her friends five years ago
Two days into joining her health and fitness program, Tammy Gibson, 39, wanted to quit. The Midland, Ont., mom of two was 325 pounds at her heaviest and was used to eating high-calorie food whenever she wanted so the five small meals a day (and much fewer calories) had her in a hangry state. But a harsh reality check from her friend Jess set her straight and she changed her mindset. She dedicated herself to the program’s meal plan and began going to the workouts four to five times a week.
That12-week program that Tammy signed up for in May of 2019 effectively changed her life. Once she started being consistent with the meal plans and fitness, she started seeing results, losing 25 pounds in the first month. She set a goal to lose 100 pounds, no matter how long it took.
Formal challenges have proven to be significant motivators for Tammy when it comes to improving her health. In September of 2019, she joined a 12-week Biggest Loser Challenge. While she didn’t win, she did shed another 22.5 pounds and 10.5 inches. Then, when the holiday season came around, she saw herself slipping in old habits and she could feel the negative effects it was having on her both physically and mentally. So come January 2020, she signed up for a 90-Day weight loss challenge. Tammy won first place in the challenge, losing a total of 27 pounds and 25 inches. And at the end of the year, in December 2020–18 months of since starting her journey, 18 months that were filled with hard work, dedication, sacrifice and consistency–she hit my 100 pound weight-loss goal
She wasn’t stopping there, though. Another big challenge, competing in a fitness competition, in April of this year, resulted in her losing a total of 125 pounds in her journey. “I didn’t place in the top three, but just being on that stage was another accomplishment in my lifestyle change and fitness journey that I am extremely proud of,” she says.
Of course, her successful weight loss hasn’t come with setbacks. Like for many of us, the pandemic presented some challenges. With no gym access, and minimal equipment at home, She had kettlebells, 5- and 10-Lb dumbbells and some resistance bands and she made the most out of them by doing old workouts her coach had sent her. “I also started taking 5 to 10-kilometre walks around my small little town three to four times a week. Sometimes toting my two sons behind me in wagons or sleighs depending on the season,” she says. And the money she wasn’t spending on the gym? She used it towards purchasing more fitness equipment, adding two benches, a home gym, a treadmill, a barbell with plates and a set of dumbbells. :I figured it was worth it to invest in myself and my health. I cleared out my cold room in my basement and made myself my own home gym, the ‘babe cave’ if you will,” says Tammy.
With her busy life, finding time for her workouts is also a challenge. “I am a full time shift worker and a mom of two boys who both have autism and high needs, who are both very dependent on me in very different ways,” she shares. The home gym she’s built due to the pandemic has actually become very convenient with her schedule. And there’s the added bonus of her boys being interested in what she’s up to and joining in on her fitness regimen. “I love setting that example for them but it’s also extra time spent with them,” she says.
While changing her relationship with food and eating more healthily is what contributed the most to her weight loss, the benefits are greater than just the number on the scale. “Cutting fried foods and minimizing my sugar intake helped me to not only lose weight, but it helped with my overall health in general. I felt less sluggish and tired, I had a clearer head, less brain fog, and it also reduced my acid reflux and indigestion I often struggled with and had to take pills to find relief,” she shares. Her improved health also gives her the ability to play with her kids and walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded. Simple tasks are now simple.
Mentally, she’s in a much better place as well. Things don’t consume her like they once did. “Confidence has replaced my self consciousness. I have dropped eight sizes in pants and four shirt and bra sizes. It is liberating to be able to shop at any store I want to and buy clothing I love instead of only specialty-sized stores and settle on buying clothes just because they fit me,” she says.
There’s been some unexpected changes that have come with her weight loss. People have responded in ways she wouldn’t have predicted. She’s found that some of the people closest to her have been less supportive and less encouraging than strangers. Tammy’s found her relationship with family and friends have shifted because of this. But on the bright side, she’s developed great relationships with many people who motivate and inspire her daily. “It is heartwarming to be part of a community who truly understands the sacrifices that I have made and the commitment, dedication, and time I’ve spent changing my behaviour towards my eating habits, exercise and my general well-being. Their continuous support has been uplifting, valued and unimaginable,” says Tammy.
She’s now stronger on all levels and is excited to further her journey. “I am much more comfortable with who I am and very proud of everything I have accomplished over such a short time. I am a better me which makes me a better mother to my sons.”
Photos by ChrisVLinton