This week, we continue our spotlight of Mugwamps instructors by introducing you to Amy Lucas. Amy's story will make you confident that you can overcome your obstacles and that you are welcome at Mugwamps no matter where you're starting from. "I'm too fat," "I'm not in good enough shape to finish a class," "It will be too hard," "No one understands," . . . these excuses all disappear when you hear Amy's story. Here she is in her own words
I am not your typical Fitness Instructor. I have fought for years to become a healthy person who is strong, capable, consistent, confident in who I am, and comfortable in my body. I have lost 105 pounds over the past 8-years, and because of that I have empathy and understanding that not every instructor out there has. I am passionate about cheering women on and encouraging them to become the best version of themselves because I want them to experience the same freedom I have found from obesity and all that goes with it.
I wasn’t a ‘big’ person when I was younger. I was pretty average my whole life, but because I wasn’t as small as my friends (I thought my 27” waist was too big compared to their 24” waists), I felt big. By the time I was in high school, I had already tried to lose weight countless times even though I was very active and danced at least 5 days a week. In my junior year, when I was 16, an extremely traumatic attack happened to me. I was shattered! I was ashamed, embarrassed, instantly insecure, and felt worthless, helpless, hopeless, and broken. I remember not being able to look people in the eyes after it happened, and it was years and years later before I could again. I tried to push away my feelings, but all that happened was I became angry and bitter, and I unraveled.
Two years later in college, I was still angry and bitter, but now I was also on a warpath to create a wall of protection around me in the form of fat. Somehow, I believed that no one would want to do ‘that’ to a fat girl…so I got fatter, and fatter, and fatter. I began sneaking food to my dorm, all while pretending everything was okay.
By the time I was 23 years old and married to my incredible husband, I was up to 240 pounds, but that wasn’t even close to my highest because I was still broken inside. I continued to push down feelings and pack on weight until I was at my highest and 30 years old. I don’t know for certain what my highest number on the scale was because once I saw 285 pounds, I stopped weighing. I know I was heavier than that though, because my clothes at the time stopped fitting. My best guess is that I was around 290-300 pounds, but I only count from the number I last saw on the scale.
My youngest baby was around 6 months old when I attended a Bible Study at my church. I had gone through several before, but nothing had ever affected me like this one did. It was ‘Breaking Free’ by Beth Moore, and it changed my life forever! This study walked me through God’s Word and taught me what My Heavenly Father thought about me and what happened to me. I learned that He had already taken my shame, but I had to ask Him for help to take that bondage away from me. I learned that He promised to heal my brokenness if I allowed Him to do the hard work needed. I discovered He would use my past, both the sins of others as well as mine, to write a story that would bring honor and glory to Him. For the first time since I was a 16-year-old girl, I was a whole person again, and Jesus is the one who put me back together. I finally trusted Him at His Word, and big surprise, He was and is Faithful! He did what He promised in His Word, and He is the source of both my joy and my strength. He alone healed me and made me who I am today.
My relationship with Jesus had been on hold for 14 years because I ran away from Him, but after He welcomed me back with open arms, I began a brand-new life with Him. I was lovingly convicted about never having read through my Bible, even though I had given Him my life to Jesus when I was 13 years old. I followed a reading plan that took me through the Bible, and that is where my journey to health began. During my 30th year, God spoke to me repeatedly through His Word and taught me so much about Himself and His love for me. He challenged me and showed me the sin in my life that didn’t align with Him. One of those sins was my obesity. He taught me how, in my life, I was sinning by abusing the body He created, and the body The Holy Spirit lived in. As a follower of Jesus, I had never thought of being overweight in this way before. My weaknesses came to the surface through this journey, and finally He taught me that He cares about ALL of me and ALL parts of my life. He told me He would help me, and because of the way He healed my brokenness caused by my past, I trusted Him to be faithful in this area too.
I began with my relationship with food, because it was unhealthy and seriously messed up! I began praying every morning for His help with food choices each day. I prayed before every meal and snack for His help to know when my body was satisfied. I prayed for Him to begin to change my cravings, so I would want foods that were healthy for me. Slowly, weight came off. I read books, read nutritionist’s websites, and anything I could, to learn about food as fuel and how it affects my body. I finally decided I was ready to start exercising because I was also convicted about living a sedentary lifestyle—that’s not what we were created for, and now I knew that. I began by walking around the perimeter of our 2.5 acres. One loop was ¼ mile, and that was all I could do when I first began. I continued to build from there, adding a second loop, third, fourth, then eventually would walk the half mile to the main road and back before walking my loops. As months went by, I began wanting to do more. I started taking classes at a brand-new women’s gym in my town. They offered kickboxing two times a week. I was terrified to go! I was embarrassed to be the fattest girl in the room. I was afraid of what people would think of me trying to work out because of how big I was, but God told me to go, so I did. I couldn’t even do 5 minutes-straight of the class for at least the first three months, but I kept going nonetheless. They added a dance class which I loved, but I couldn’t complete that either. Eventually, however, I was able to begin a class and not stop until the end of class. It took me a very long time to get there, but I got there because I never gave up.
The gym owner approached me one night after class. She asked if I had ever considered becoming a fitness instructor. I laughed. A lot. I laughed loud! ME?! The FATTEST girl in the room? The one hiding on the back row so no one can see me? ME, ME??? Yup…that’s who she was talking about. After talking with my husband and praying, I knew God was leading me to step into this. The owner mentored me, allowing me to teach and write classes while I studied to take my certification exam. I began teaching classes in the fall of 2014 and became a NETA certified Group Fitness Instructor in June 2015. I continued to learn about God’s plan for me, and how He wanted to work through me while losing even more weight since then. Just like He did and continues to do with the event from when I was 16, He has and does use the victory over obesity in my life to share His story, His love, His power, and His faithfulness.
About 2-years ago my body began going through some strange changes. I was beginning to lose hair, I was waking up multiple times at night, I had some other physical issues, and my weight began to climb and climb and climb. I was still working out, my eating was still pretty good, but the fat was coming back, and I felt lost! After 6mo of dealing with it, I went to a brand-new doctor who listened to me and helped me learn what was going on. She ran tests and found out that my thyroid wasn’t functioning properly, I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, and my vitamin D level was nearly non-existent. PCOS, an improperly working Thyroid, and low vitamin D all affect your body’s ability to lose weight, so combined, they were a mountain I couldn’t get over on my own. I continued to go to her for 18 months, and with the help of medicine and continued commitment to eating well and exercising, I finally reached my goal of losing 100+ pounds. Now I am much more aware of ladies who are struggling to lose weight when they are eating healthy and exercising properly. I urge them to keep track of what they are doing and issues they are having so they can talk with their physicians. I strongly believe if a person is putting in the hard work physically, eating a healthy way, but aren’t seeing results over time that there is a bigger issue at hand. I’m grateful for the experience in my life so I can now help guide and teach others about things they had never considered.
I always wanted to teach. My Bachelor’s degree is in teaching, but I never dreamed it would lead me here. I know I am meant to do this! As I approach my 5th year of teaching, I can honestly say I love it now more than I ever have before. I am confident in who I am as an instructor, and I always want to learn and grow to become better and better. I am currently working for the 2nd year for one of my dearest and best friends, and I also get to work alongside two more of my best friends who are also instructors and personal trainers. But the best part about my job are the women I get to spend time with and lead in classes. I love what I do, and now that I am free from obesity I have become the biggest cheerleader for those longing to find the same thing. I recently began a weight loss support group geared specifically for women who have 50 pounds or more to lose. It has been an absolute joy to walk through the journey of these incredible women, and I am amazed each week at how The Lord uses His Word and my experiences to help others.
God wants the greatest life for each of his daughters! That doesn’t mean our lives will be free of hardships and pain, but it does mean He will always be with us to help, to heal, to fight for us, and to love us unconditionally. We were made to do life together as a family because God builds His kingdom through family. Mugwamps becomes like family, and I love my Mugwamps Family so much. I am grateful to get to do what I love, and I am even more grateful for what The Lord has done in my life, so I can help point others to their Creator who loves them even more than I do. I am cheering you on, ladies, and I am your biggest fan!