I’m all about sharing, that’s why I love to bring you oodles of awesome recipes every week. But now I’d like to share some more personal things here on Foodness Gracious. I’ll let you read the story for yourself, but in a brief summary it’s about my wife and her personal journey to be fitter, slimmer and healthier. All I can say is that I’m really proud of her, like really proud. I see her dedication, passion and commitment every day and can’t believe how successful she’s been. She’ll be guest posting for me every other week on here and sharing her highs and lows, we’d both love to see you follow along on Fitness Gracious!

See why my wife is guest posting for me every other week here on Fitness Gracious. Her personal weightless journey is worth reading if you need motivation!

It’s funny what motivates people to make a healthy life change. For me, it wasn’t the delicious food from Foodness Gracious that triggered it.

My name is Maura Hudson, and I’m the non-chef, non-blogger half of the Speirs Family team. Gerry thought it might be nice for me to start a new bi-weekly blog feature on Foodness Gracious, one that focuses on an accidental personal journey I started in January 2016. This journey stemmed in part from this photo on the left. It was Christmas time. I went to a party at a girlfriend’s house. I was bundled up in a jacket, long sleeve shirt and cute scarf, thinking no one would notice that I was the chunkiest, least slinky of the group. I was the heaviest I had ever been – 221 lbs at age 45. The impact of birthing two kids, a demanding career and philanthropy work, lots of travel, eating out a lot and limited exercise took its toll. I wasn’t taking care of myself, and it showed.

It was really the publishing of that picture on Facebook that did it. Something snapped. I can’t look like that in public! And I especially can’t feel like that, which is basically like crap. Too negative. Too depressing. About the same time, a number of things happened. I found my FitBit. My company’s healthcare program, UHG, offered up the Real Appeal program for those who are out of range of their BMI, cholesterol, or blood glucose targets, and I joined it. I was reintroduced to calorie tracking via Real Appeal’s fitness tracking app on my mobile. Finally, my girlfriend started a fitness competition with some real skin in the game. And I’m competitive.

Over the course of 10 months, I was relentless. I made smoothies. Tested out various protein powder flavors. I challenged people to weekly step challenges over and over and over again, clocking thousands of steps. I did spin class three days a week. Walked another three. Walked faster. Walked further. Walked so fast and so far that it was just easier to run slow than walk fast. I then joined my friend’s run group and before I knew it, I had my first half marathon under my belt. I didn’t put a thing in my mouth that didn’t get recorded in my app. I weighed myself weekly. I found myself an accountability partner that I would text my weight to, and she’d call me out if I forgot to follow up. I spent money on running apps, shoes, nighttime reflectors, chews, water bottles, and a whole host of workout gear. I got up at the butt-crack of dawn, actually even before that, at 4:40 a.m. to work out for two hours, 5-6 days a week.

I struggled.

And I experienced joy. I made new, amazing friends. I witnessed the tight-knit “runner culture” when a stranger paid for my registration fees for an important-to-me run I thought I already signed up for. I PRd (personal record) several times. I slept better at night. I became calmer with my kids. I became a more confident skier. I preferred walking to getting in my car. Someone actually called me an “athlete,” something I hadn’t considered myself to be since my high school tennis days. And the ultimate? I went down 67 pounds to a size 6 from a size 14…and by some miracle continue to keep it off!

This new feature is almost as much about keeping myself in front of my fitness priorities as it is sharing them with you and learning about your goals. A few people, starting with Gerry, thought this might be the start to a new path in coaching and other motivational efforts. We’ll see. In the meantime, I think it would be great if we walked this journey together, talked about what worked and what didn’t on our path to healthy lifestyles, and laughed a little about the whole thing. This journey is a marathon and not a sprint. Let’s pace ourselves, encourage each other, and enjoy the scenery on the road to real, sustainable and long-term change.

Let’s go!