My Fitness Journey: Erika Reiser
I met Erika through the Y! She is a Body Combat regular, yet until I asked her about her story, I never knew about her struggles! Another AMAZING read!
Erika Reiser in her own words…
As a child, I was always active! I was a tomboy. I played outside, climbed trees, hunted and fished with my Dad, shot archery, played sand lot football/baseball, skated; you name it. As a teen, I ran track and did a lot of swimming. We lived on the river, and I spent nearly every day swimming, spear fishing, boating, etc. There was rarely a dull moment. I was always fit, but never really had a great body image. I developed late, but once I did, I was “blessed” with more than enough for me and a few friends. I was teased by both boys and girls. I tried to hide my body with big shirts for a long time. I finally decided that I had to toughen up and not worry about the teasing.
There were still challenges to doing things due to the size of my “obstacles,” so I did what I could do until I was an adult and then I had them reduced. This decision was one of the best decisions I ever made. I still don’t have a great body image, but I’m working on it. It just seems like there’s always some reason as to why I don’t feel like I have the shape that I’m after. Maybe it’s because my goals are always a work in progress. I always have more to do.
In 2005-2006 I had reach a weight of 177 lbs. on my 5′ 3″ frame. Throughout my teen years, I had always weighed between 115-125 pounds and that was actually pretty good for my frame. At 177 pounds, I was miserable. Something was going on with my body and I didn’t know what. I had been married to my husband since 1996 and had wanted to have children, but it just wasn’t working. Something was wrong and I didn’t know what. I just kept gaining weight and tried all kinds of weight loss programs. I would lose a little weight here and there, but nothing that lasted. Always a yo-yo!
Finally, I decided to do some research on my own as to what could be causing so many of the issues that I had (weight gain, oily skin/acne, infertility, menstrual irregularity, fatigue, hirsutism, mood swings, etc.). I finally surmised that it could possibly be PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). I asked my doctor to run a series of tests to be sure. As suspected, the test results concluded that I did, in fact, have PCOS. I was sent to a reproductive endocrinologist for additional help. She gave me a list of things to do/eat to help with my symptoms.
At that point, I started following what the doctor had set for me to do. I changed the things that I ate first and recorded everything. I maintained a caloric intake of 1000-1200 calories per day and I reduced or eliminated the simple carbs that I was consuming. I ate several times per day (4-6), and the carbs that I did consume were things that are low on the glycemic index. Because PCOS affects your endocrine system, you need to try to avoid blood sugar spikes or major drops, similar to diabetes.
After changing my diet, I began to see improvement and weight loss. After I had lost about 16-20 pounds, I began to try running again. I started slow with short distances and would combine it with walking. I gradually progressed to longer distances and increased my speed. By 2009, I had lost the weight that I had been trying to lose. I was down to 117-120 pounds. I was excited about the fact that I had actually been able reach my goal and I was even more excited about the fact that my body was beginning to function as it should.
At the beginning of 2010, I found out that I was pregnant. I was 39 years old and was totally blown away! I had been told for so many years that I would probably never be able conceive. Low and behold, after giving up all hope, my prayers had been answered! I delivered a healthy baby boy, two months shy of my 40th birthday. I only gained 25 pounds with my pregnancy, and I felt that should be easy enough to take off. It wasn’t too bad at first. It was coming off slowly. I was back to 130 pounds, but all of a sudden, it began to come back again. I hadn’t really changed how I was eating, but I hadn’t been running like I did before I had my son.
I had climbed back up to 144 pounds. It was driving me nuts! I joined the YMCA and started shedding some of the weight, but not enough. In December of 2015, I was back to 131 pounds, but I still wanted to shed the remaining 10. Unfortunately, that did not happen. I actually gained weight, again. I went back up to 135 pounds. I have gained muscle, but there is still that layer of fat that I am continuing to work on.
Although not all victories are measured by a number on the scale, they are still victories. As mentioned, I have gained muscle and better yet, I have significantly improved the numbers on my blood work. For the last year, I have been using the My Fitness Pal app to monitor/record my diet and exercise, have been wearing a Fitbit to help monitor my exercise/steps and heart rate, working out 4-5 days/week for at least an hour per day. I am always busy doing something. I rarely sit to do anything. With a 5-year-old boy, I am always on the go!
I love all kinds of things and like to switch my workouts up from time to time. I generally do Body Pump and Body Combat regularly and add in Spin, Bootcamp, Horizontal Conditioning, and Kettle Bell, and Body Flow. I also run a few miles on the treadmill here and there.
A major success for me had been the fact that I changed my body enough to restore normal female bodily function and to have become pregnant with my son. Other successes are: improved lab results (cholesterol, triglycerides, etc.) and increased muscle.
Obstacles and/or Failures
I would say that the failures would be gaining back some of the weight that I had worked so hard to lose. Now, I’m working to lose it again as well as continuing to improve my strength and muscle definition.
I know you have so much more to do! Wow have you come a long way! Another amazing story about another amazing woman!
Just Keep Going!