Army wife's journey to health changes her life
May 16, 2013
FORT SILL, Okla.-- Two years ago Christine Thomas, Army wife and mother, found herself overwhelmed with depression. She was diagnosed with hypothyroidism while already taking medication for high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Thomas said she had no self-esteem and just felt like everyone was pointing fingers at her. At her heaviest, she weighed 217 pounds at only 5-foot-2-inches tall. She said her family recognized that she needed help and made her promise to take care of herself. Thomas had seen firsthand the affects of obesity as she watched her aunt die at 54 years old. She decided for herself and for the love of her family to make some changes in her life.
Thomas was determined to not stay on her current medications and began to start working out and eating healthier. She began with the Slim Possible program at Rinehart Fitness Center at Fort Sill where she was re-educated about a healthy way to eat. Instead of eating three big meals a day she would eat five to six times a day, smaller portions and healthier foods. She stop eating fried foods, cookies, donuts, etc. Thomas said her body went into a culture shock when she changed her eating habits from eating whatever and whenever she wanted.
In past attempts to lose weight, Thomas said she would only a eat bowl of cereal in the morning and in the afternoon in combination with a three- to four-hour workout in the gym with no results. Through this program she has learned that starving is not the right method. She now enjoys all kinds of fruits, veggies and smooothies instead of cookies or sodas. She also learned how to cook many new foods and meals and admittedly likes them.
"The weight came off slowly but surely," Thomas said.
Thomas' favorite go-to snack is a granola mix and lots of water. She has learned a variety of recipes for fruit-flavored waters from her friends at the gym. She still likes to indulge in chocolate from time to time. But she has found by indulging only in moderation that it has allowed her to stay on track.
Within a year, Thomas said she was off most of her medications and her thyroid had leveled out.
When she began working out, Thomas said she could not walk a mile in 40 minutes without getting tired. She tried a variety of classes from Latin dance exercise class, on a dare from her husband, to body toning to boot camp abdominals, or abs. Her regular routine includes three days a week at the Latin dance exercise class and abs classes and two days a week at body toning and restructuring with Claudia Mejia, Fort Sill Garrison fitness coordinator and Rinehart Fitness Center manager. She said that the staff seemed genuinely concerned about the quality of fitness they offer to military wives like her. That made a huge difference to her.
She weighed 172 pounds when she started working out at the gym and is currently down to 141 pounds. Happy with the progress of her weight loss she does not have an end goal weight but is more focused on just staying healthy.
"I'll keep my curves, as long as my heart keeps beating and I keep moving forward," said Thomas.
On the weekends, she enjoys running with her husband or playing basketball with her 15-year-old son. Thomas said her son admits it is hard to keep up with his mom saying jokingly, "Momma is a beast."
Thomas said military life can be lonely sometimes so she has enjoyed making new friends at the workout classes she attends. They have developed bonds that have inspired each other to keep pushing further in their workouts. They check in with each other to see how they are doing and will bring each other little gifts to boost their spirits. Thomas said the gifts could be as simple as a nutrition bar or new energy drink, a hug or a word of encouragement. During workout sessions, the women cheer each other on when they feel tired.
Thomas said, "We feel invincible when we are done with the workout."
Last October, her group of friends ran their first 5K together at the Spirit of Survival in Lawton. This was Thomas' first goal met. Next, she would like to run a 10K, then a half marathon and so on. But her greatest goal is to beat her husband's running time. She only has 27 seconds to go.
"I've come a long way," said Thomas.
Thomas said she has definitely seen an increase in her confidence, strength and stamina since beginning this journey. It is a great feeling to keep up with the instructor and do exercises she never thought she would do. While changing her physical appearance, she accomplished other goals in her life, too. At 43 years old, she has gone back to school and noticed she can stay focused in class easier.
When she feels like she has no energy left, Thomas said that doing any kind of exercise that gets her endorphins pumping always makes her feel better. Whether it's a short run or playing with her son for 30 minutes, it always leaves her in a better mood.
Thomas advises others, "Don't quit or do it for anyone else, do it for you."