Aren’t I just the cutest thing? Here I am – age 8 months – ready to eat – not an uncommon occurrence as I got older. According to my mother, I ate anything and everything. Good or bad thing? You decide.
I was born on December 15, 1965 in Baltimore, MD. For those of you not familiar with the East Coast, Maryland is a state known for tomatoes, corn—and bad accents (LOL)!
I was basically a happy kid until I hit 4th grade. This is the time I can remember starting to “plump” up a bit. My Twinkies, Kool Aid and Ho Hos started catching up with me. I was not a team sports type of kid but I was active. I remember playing dodge ball, hopscotchand badminton often. TV turned off at midnight and we only had 5 channels. Reception was as good as the brand of tin foil you put on the antenna on top of the TV. I was just blessed with short, stocky genes. This is the grade I remember hearing things like “Chunky Pammy Whammy.” Kids would make fun of me and I would cry. I was the kid who would hide in PE class. One time I hid during the entire class and no one knew I was gone. I was the class geek who got picked last for all the teams – you get the picture. Fourth thru seventh grade were not fun for me, especially while trying to fit into clothes. I remember having to go the “chubby” section and then having to get things hemmed because they were five yards too long for me.
Fast forward to eighth grade–graduation year at my Catholic grade school. With the onset of puberty came weight loss. Not too bad–I felt better and was excited when I reached 5’ tall. All this excitement was short lived when I found out that we were moving and I had to go to a new high school in a new town. This news brought anxiety which I combatted by some sneaky eating. I would hide Oreo cookies under my bed, eat dry cake mix (ugh – this was pre-cookie dough days) and lots of sweet things. We moved in the summer of 1979 and boy was I anxious about high school. I was positive that I wasnot going to be pretty enough, not popular enough, not “whatever” enough. I took a deep breath and plunged in.
My weight went up and down between freshman and junior years. I spent a lot of time drinking 6 packs of TAB (for those of you under 40 this was an early diet soda), exercising up a frenzy in my room and riding my bike 8 – 10 miles every other day to lose weight. Afterwards, I would reward myself by eating Reese’s Pieces, cupcakes, white bread and pasta and basically anything that tasted good. Mmm, Mmm – how healthy! I would then punish myself by reading teen magazines and looking at the stick thin pictures of the girls in there. Why didn’t I look like that? What was wrong with me? I wished that I could have shared my feelings with someone but we just didn’t talk about those things in my family. I had low self-esteem. I started looking for positive affirmation in boys. Here was a clever idea!! Let’s base my self-esteem on another boy’s acceptance or rejection of me. As you can imagine, I was up one day and down another. No matter – just open another TAB diet soda and have cookies – you’ll feel better, Pam.
Enter Senior Year. Things are going pretty well. Grades are good, lots of plays, singing and fun. Darn that weight thing though! Here comes 15 pounds. From where? I drink my Tab. I try out for the Senior Play and the director tells me I’ve put on too much weight. Uh oh! Time to try something called Dexatrim – makes me hyper though. I better drink some more TAB and bike ride. It never worked because I always went back to the bad eating. My whole self esteem was based on my weight and how I thought I appeared.
Time for college. Oh boy – buffet style all you can eat in the cafeteria! An added bonus: my all girl, Catholic college is located right next door to many universities that host lots of frat parties with beer and pizza. And no curfew!!! Here comes that freshman “15”. For those of you who are unfamiliar, this mean I gained 15 pounds in the first year. Even though I am now a skyscraping 5’2 ¾” this is not a good thing. More TAB, more over the counter stuff, lots of COFFEE!!
Here’s the turning point of my life – May, 1986. I receive a phone call from my brother-in-law that my father has had a massive stroke. He was 51 years old. We all expected he would not make it but he ends up hanging in there another year after two more heart attacks. I got to call 911 for the second one. He finally passed away in April of 1987, one month before my college graduation. According to my mom, he passed a physical for work not long before the stroke. Did he have any warning signs? He had to–a major stroke like his just doesn’t happen. He smoked heavily, was overweight, didn’t exercise, eating was borderline at best and he had a high stress, white collar job. A good thing that came from all of this is that my sister quit smoking the day he had his stroke and never started again. Yeah, Laurie!
I joined a gym. I studied how your family history affects you. Oh boy, I’m screwed. Or am I? Do I have the power to change things? I try really hard and my weight gets a bit better. I studied a lot about nutrition and exercise and proper eating. Even though my career takes me into the hotel industry, I still enjoy fitness and I can see the positive results I am getting. The weight is still a struggle but I am feeling better.
Enter the next best day of my life. I’d like to think we helped each other. I helped him to quit smoking and drinking. He helped me to learn dedication, commitment and selfless love. To this day, I do not know of another man who is more committed to his loved ones then my Mourad. We both became vegetarians, although I am the stricter one. Mourad loves to cook and came from the food and beverage world so he showed me how you can eat healthy, good tasting food. He exemplifies everything he preaches.
Enter another landmark day – the moment I decided to become a Group Exercise Instructor: August, 1991. We moved to California and I joined an all ladies’ gym in Fremont. I was inspired by one of the teachers there. I saw what a positive effect she had on others and I thought: Why not me? I could do that! After I became certified, I was teaching 5 classes a week and working full time in the hotel industry. How was my weight? CREEPING back up!! What’s up with that? Wasn’t I doing the right thing? I went up and down for seven years until I found out about Weight Watchers online. My sister Laurie was on the program and I thought I’d give it a try. What an eye opener! I found out I was eating the right foods – just too much. Here was a key component. I ended up losing 20 pounds and 5% of my body fat and I am proud to say I have kept it off since.
And now a word about my children:
August 14, 1994 was a beautiful day when my Jasmine came into this world. She moved constantly in the womb and she hasn’t stopped. She unfortunately inherited my genes. She came to me in 6th grade and asked for my help. Through Weight Watchers and exercise, I am proud to say she lost 44 pounds and 8% body fat. She is a joy in my life and I have never stopped being so proud of her for her dedication and for the beautiful, self confident girl she has turned out to be.
April 8, 1997 was another beautiful day in my life. My handsome son came into the world and into my heart. He is a delight to me with his quick wit, candor and perspective on life. He keeps active with his bowling league, skateboarding and Dance Dance Revolution. Both of my children know so much about nutrition and are way ahead of where I was in life at their age. Good for them!
In February, 2006, I became a certified personal trainer. I really wanted to help people one on one. I had an opportunity to think about doing this full time and leaving the hotel world. I took the leap and started training and teaching group exercise. I found, though, that there were things I wanted to do differently then in the mainstream gyms. I wanted more privacy with my clients. I wanted them to be able to pick their own work out music. I wanted to add water, towels and snacks in so they wouldn’t have to worry about anything but their workout. And I wanted to be close to home to pick up my kids after school. SO, as the Beverly Hillbillies said, “I loaded up the truck and I moved to the Valley – Castro Valley that is!” In January, 2007, Body by Pam opened and a dream came true. I am truly blessed to be surrounded by the best personal trainers in town as well as forJune, who keeps things running.
Thanks for listening to my story. If you are ready to make a true commitment to getting fit and healthy FOR LIFE, give me a call or stop by my studio. Be prepared though – I will make you work and I will make you be accountable.
All the best,