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"If you think you can't, you won't"

Michelle Harvey

Michelle joined Fernwood Waurn Ponds in March 2012 after returning from six years living in the UK. She’d gained life experience and a gorgeous three-year old son, but she’d also gained some extra kilos, weighing in at 94.7kg.

Although she’d been a fitness class regular on and off for years, Michelle would often get discouraged by her lack of progress and quit. She couldn’t run 50 metres, was badly asthmatic, and generally embarrassed to about herself. Her move from the UK was a chance for a new start.

In June 2012, Michelle started seeing a Personal Trainer and Food Coach – and that’s when she started to notice changes. By November she had hit her goal weight of 78kg and in March the following year she completed the 2013 Foxy Challenge, shedding an extra 8kg from her frame and slipping into a size 10 dress.

From being out of breath after a 50 metre run, to completing four fun runs this year, Michelle is one inspirational woman. You can find her at Fernwood Waurn Ponds or running at her local track 8-10 times a week.

What was your ‘light bulb’ moment?

“I simply couldn’t look in the mirror. I’d catch a glimpse of myself and cringe at the face that looked back. I had to trash most of the photos of me from a family trip to Portugal as I was ashamed of how I looked, and I no longer had the confidence to have a haircut as I’d have to look in the mirror at the hair salon. I knew I didn’t want to feel ashamed of myself in the pictures of my little boy growing up.”

What was the most challenging thing about getting started?

“In my first PT session I nearly cried, because my PT wanted me to face the mirror while I did squats, and I had to tell her I couldn’t. Three months later, my thank you card to her simply said ‘thank you for helping me to look in the mirror again.’

Fitness, health – it’s a journey. When I entered the gym and looked around, I saw thin, fit people and I felt intimidated. Like I didn’t belong. What I came to realise was that everyone is on a journey, and you never know their story or where they started. New members have sometimes assumed I’ve always been athletic, sporty and confident in the gym, but I remember the fear of joining a new class. I used to look in the mirror and feel sad at being the biggest there, and worry people laughed at me.

My confidence came from my PTs – they helped me to see things differently, celebrate the small steps on my journey and help me to overcome. Having the confidence to walk through the door to the gym, or into the group fitness studio, can be the hardest bit. Once you’re in there, the members and the staff have always been welcoming. I am indebted to my club staff (especially PTs) and gym friends.”

What was your key to success?

PROTEIN and WEIGHTS! I was reluctant at first, and headed straight for the cardio, but my PT showed me the importance of building muscle for burning fat. Increasing my protein intake was absolutely key too.”

Why did you choose Fernwood over other gyms or programs?

“The all female environment was appealing, given my confidence issues. I joined online without a tour first, but it wasn’t long before the Waurn Ponds club became second home! I wouldn’t shift now.”

What was the biggest thing you learnt?

“The ability to achieve anything is within you, but you have to believe you can do it.

If you think you can’t, you won’t. I’ve definitely learnt that my perceived limits are all mental – I can do far more than I think (especially with my PT pushing me!). My motto: ‘If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.’”

What advice would you give to someone thinking about joining Fernwood?

“Work hard, have fun and get to know the staff and other members!

Support is key. I would not have the results, physical and mental strength I’ve developed without the staff and fellow members.

Join in – social events, runs, Get Foxy, outdoor boot camps, classes… these all provide different environments to just being on a treadmill.

Get a PT – it’s not just someone to yell and push you. They are perhaps the best way to form goals, both short and long term, and work towards them with the encouragement and support we all need sometimes.

And above all, enjoy it!”

 *Fernwood client testimonial was achieved as part of an overall healthy diet and exercise plan. Regular exercise and proper diet are necessary to achieve and maintain weight loss. Consult your healthcare professional before beginning any diet or fitness program.