by JDR Instructor Trainee, Amanda Camden
Many of you might not know that for most of my life I was heavily overweight. At my highest point, three years ago, I weighed 287. Shortly after my second child was born, my doctor did some routine blood work and noticed that my liver enzymes were extremely elevated. I was then taken to a specialist that told me I might eventually need a transplant at some point if I didn’t lose weight. I went home and looked at my children and my husband and cried that night for a very long time. I could not sleep. I just kept thinking: I want to see my kids grow up. I want to see them graduate. I want to be at their wedding. I want to see my grandkids. I want to grow old with my husband. That night I decided I needed to change things and be a good role model for my family.
How do I do this was the next question? I had been on so many diets since I was twelve and NOTHING had worked for me. My relationship with food was not good. I was obsessed with it! I loved food. I ate when I wasn’t hungry and kept eating when I was full. I was a very emotional eater and by that I mean I ate while feeling any emotion: happy, sad, mad, frustrated, stressed, etc. How was I going to fix this? What do I do? The first several months were a struggle trying to find what worked. I took away fried foods from my diet, desserts, any unhealthy snacks and bread. Not only did this not work for me, it made me very “hangry” and unhappy. I started to learn that this was a lifestyle change, not a quick fix. I tried to start setting little goals and moving forward from there. My first goal was to add more fruits and vegetables during the day and do some form of exercise for 30 minutes three times a week. Over time, I started to phase out the bad things I was eating and replaced them with healthier options. I still have my treats, but I try to eat a kid sized portion or share it with someone else. I also learned little tricks along the way like to share a meal and add a salad or box up half the meal once you get it. One thing I don’t do now is if I do eat a lot or have a bad day with food, I don’t continue to do that. I jump right back on track. Before I would say, “well I messed up so I might as well keep eating badly and try again on Monday.”
The first 6 months, I lost weight pretty quickly. I remember going to shop for new clothes during this process and I still went to the size 26 sections and 3x just because part of me still saw myself that way. Not only had I been going through a physical change, but it was mental as well.
After the first 6 months I hit my first plateau. I felt like I was eating less and moving so much more and I was just not seeing results. It was very frustrating. I couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong. I talked with a friend of mine that said that I needed to change things up with the way I exercise. So, I added weights and even though I gained weight at first, she assured me it was muscle gain. It was very hard to see the numbers on the scale go up, but after a couple of months of lifting and continuing cardio I started to lose some more weight.
After a while though, I plateaued again and exercise for me definitely wasn’t fun in anyway until I went to my first class at Just Dance Roanoke in 2013. My first class was a MegaMix and I thought that I wouldn’t be able to make it through a 90 minutes class. I love to dance, but I had not done it in a long time. The class just flew by and was so much fun! The JDR instructor team was so encouraging and the positive energy in the room between the participants and instructors was unlike anything I had even been a part of. I have lost more weight and have been able to maintain that weight for a year. I am so happy to have the support of my family, and the participants and instructor team at JDR. I couldn’t have done it without them!
After losing 112 pounds, I sometimes still feel flawed by all the loose skin that is left behind, but it reminds me every day of how far I’ve come. Sometimes I look in the mirror and I get really emotional about different points in my life especially when I was younger and I felt I wasn’t good enough, I’ll never find someone who loves me for me, or I’m too big to (fill in the blank). I realize now, it doesn’t matter what size you are, every woman is beautiful. I also know that by making these changes, God willing, I will be here for my family for a long time.
Amanda Camden is part of the Just Dance Roanoke Instructor Training Program. She has been a member of Just Dance Roanoke since 2013. She works full time as a preschool teacher and is the mother to Christian, 5 and Allyson, 3.