It's amazing what avenues God uses to connect people. He has used my love of fitness, social media, one of my dear friends and my mom as connections to Jackie Haack, a strong woman and, even though we've never met physically, I consider a friend. A woman who is not only an example of a dedicated and loving wife and mom, but a faithful steward of her body. If anyone would have reason to forgo exercise and healthy meal planning, it would be Jackie. With my fitness business Solid Strength, I run challenge groups that meet virtually, holding each other accountable, offering support and encouragement along the way. Each challenger chooses an exercise program of choice from my website and commits to making healthier meal choices by taking photos of what they eat and posting to a private group in Facebook. Jackie started liking my posts and following my public Facebook page sometime this past summer. She is one of my dear friend's sister-in-law, and found my page through her. She and I started to communicate via Facebook message about her being in a challenge group and she was able to join my October, 2013 group. She chose PUMP as her workout. I want to share her fitness journey with you to offer possible motivation, inspiration and to give you an example of someone who makes health and fitness a priority. To show you that it is possible! More than that, a way in which you can bring glory to God.
Jackie is a wife to a hard-working farmer (who just happened to go to the same high school as I, pretty much at the same time), has two young children and a full time job. Her job is physically tasking and requires patience, love, thoughtfulness and energy. She is a paraprofessional in the special needs classroom at Fond du Lac High School (in the same classroom as my mom ). I asked her a few questions about her daily schedule, her son's extra needs and her health and fitness journey. Her answers are honest, humbling and without remorse. 1. What does a typical day look like for you?
A ‘typical’ weekday looks like this… ● 4:45 alarm goes off ● 5:00 I get up (if I haven’t been up for hours by this time because of kiddo(s) being awake; start coffee ● 5:15 Bible time ● 5:40 Facebook/email/light stretching time ● 5:50 make my breakfast smoothie/drink coffee ● 5:55 start kids’ breakfasts & packing lunches/drink coffee ● 6:15 shower ● 6:25 make sure the kids are up/getting dressed/etc. ● 6:40 get dressed/drink coffee ● 6:55 Liv & I leave the house for the day ● 7:20 drop off Liv at school ● 7:30 arrive at my school ● 3:00 leave school ● 3:10 pick up Christian (when he’s not being picked up by a therapist) ● 3:30 pick up Liv ● 3:50 get home/get kids snacks/etc. ● 4:15-ish start a workout ● 5:15-ish start supper (or suppers)/start laundry/help with homework/email/etc. ● 6:20 eat supper ● 6:45 family time ● 7:30 kids in bed ● 7:45 watch a favorite show with my hubby/fold laundry/email/Facebook/etc. ● 9:00-ish go to bed ● *3-4 nights per week, get up with Christian some time between 12:00-3:30, sometimes he goes back to sleep, other times not. I try to catch some sleep on the couch, but if he stays awake, he usually wakes me up every 2-10 minutes to ask for help or have me answer his questions…
2. When did you start exercising on a regular basis?
"January 2012. I was going through our Christmas pictures and realized that I wanted to crop myself out of every picture because I didn’t like the way I looked. While I was ok cropping myself out, I thought of how unfair it would be to my kids if they didn’t have any pictures of our family with their mom in them. During the first half of 2012, I lost 55 pounds through changing my eating habits and starting running & Body Pump at our local Y. July forced me to look for a job with benefits, so my exercise fell by the wayside only happening a couple of times per week. In December 2012, I decided that I wanted to train for a ½ marathon scheduled for April 2013. That motivated me to jump back into a training schedule. Regular exercise went by the wayside again after the race as Christian was really struggling with life in general. I re-committed to exercise again in September, finding it easier to stay committed when I’m being held accountable for my workouts. I also signed up for a couple of ½ marathons in June & August in 2014, Lord willing. That will keep me more motivated to stick with a training schedule".
3. With all that you have going on, why is exercise important to you?
"There’s a whole host of reasons why exercise is important to me. I remember that at my heaviest, I got winded just running to the mailbox at the end of our driveway. To be fair to my kids, I wanted to be a mom who could keep up with them and not just have to sit on a bench and watch them play. I also wanted to be a better example to my kids. I wanted them to see that exercise is important enough that I need to find a way to sneak it into my schedule whenever possible. For my hubby, I wanted to be the energetic woman that he married and not the couch potato that I had turned into. I wanted to improve my health and try to not let health issues that have been in my family history just automatically become my own. Also, the Bible refers to our bodies as ‘temples of the Lord’ - I needed to start treating mine as such instead of treating it as a dumping ground".
4. What is Christian's diagnosis or reason for therapy?
"Christian’s diagnosis is severe autism. He was diagnosed at 21 months, when I was 7 months pregnant with Olivia. I spent years thinking 'there must be a way to reverse the diagnosis', since his autism was the regressive kind (meaning that he was developing ‘normally’ and then lost skills between the age of 15-16 months). I felt guilty. After 8 years of all types of therapy, Christian is mostly verbal. More importantly, he is a super happy, charismatic, tech-saavy, Charlie Brown loving, energetic guy. He still struggles with telling us how he feels, being overwhelmed in unfamiliar and/or crowded spaces, elopement (running away), inability to understand dangerous situations, and changes in routine, etc., so we continue with 9-hours of in-home therapy per week".
5. Has starting PUMP at home (or any workout that you've done at home) benefitted Christian, and if so, how?
PUMP is pretty much the only exercise that Christian gets excited about me doing, to the point where some days when I don’t feel up to it, he insists that I do a ‘Beachbody Pump’! Christian likes the music and the beat of the workouts and will often dance around by me or use our ‘AbLounger’ while I complete my workout. He has added some new phrases to his daily scripts, like ‘Kai Kaha! Be Strong!’ and ‘1,2,3 Pump & Shred!’ from the dvds. Christian has always been super energetic and these workouts seem to help him direct some of that energy".
6. What benefits have you found for you and Christian with exercise?
Benefits - for myself: I can keep up with my kids without needing to take a break. I feel more confident, as a wife, mother, and instructional assistant that I m physically strong enough to handle it. For Christian & myself: exercise helps to counteract the ‘weight gain’ side effect of some of the medications that we are taking. And, now that I have the PUMP dvds in our home, I love that Christian enjoys the workouts and will hang out with me in the basement and we work on our ‘beach bodies’ (as Christian calls it) together."
7. Do you feel different on the days that you do NOT get to exercise, less energy or stamina or quicker to lose patience, etc?
"When I don’t exercise, the biggest difference I notice is that my patience wanes much more quickly than on days when I have gotten a good workout in. Also, if I miss exercising for a couple of days, my confidence starts to decrease and I find myself struggling much more with my depression and anxiety issues. I also have trouble sleeping well at night".
8. Where do you go for help; who do you seek out for help?
" ‘My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth' Psalm 121:2. My day is made up of constant prayers for patience, wisdom, and strength to make it through. My hubby is a rock. Lots of times, I’ll turn to my friends who offer support when I ask for it."
9. How does exercise affect your relationship with Christian? Your husband? Jesus?
"I can keep up with Christian now, not just watch him whizz by me as he runs by. My body is stronger now and better able to withstand his sneak-attack ‘hugs’ and ‘jungle gym’ climbing missions. God-willing, with better health, I will be around longer to help him navigate the world around him. The same holds true of my relationship with Olivia, too. I also hope that I show her the example of how to be healthier while being a wife, mother, worker, sister, friend, etc. I feel more confident for my husband. I don’t shy away as much from him touching me since I am not as embarrassed by my body shape and size. I feel more worthy of his love. With my weight and eating out of control, I spent a lot of time feeling helpless, hopeless, unworthy, embarrassed, ashamed, lonely, utterly lost, and drowning in despair. This really distanced me from feeling God’s Love for me. God has given me a gift of this body that I have. Not everyone is gifted with a body that can lift and bend and move. I have these abilities. I feel like these are gifts that I should cherish and use. Exercising is one way that I can take care of this body - His temple".
I want to thank Jackie for her time, her honesty and inspirational example of making it, fit. One thing I'd like to point out is Jackie was smart. When she said enough was enough with her fitness level and weight, she set goals. All through this post she refers to a specific goal she set for herself, helping to stay committed to her decision to become healthier. Whether is was a 5K run/walk, a 1/2 marathon, an accountability challenge group, or a group exercise class at her local Y, Jackie had long term goals that she aligned her daily decisions with. I strongly encourage all of you, if you find yourself struggling today, to set goals. Reach out to someone to be your accountability partner through the process of achieving them. You don't have to do this alone. Message me if you need an accountability partner. I'd love to help.